New details of Hereford’s two big cultural projects, and how they will benefit the city, have been revealed as they edge closer to reality.

Plans to move the city’s main library from its current venue on Broad Street to the Maylords Orchard shopping centre were unveiled last year as part of a £22 million government-backed spending package.

The old library, Herefordshire museum and art gallery building will then become a new cultural attraction and events space, as part of the Stronger Hereford package of improvements to the city.

A “business case” outlining how the money will be spent on both projects will be submitted to the Government “in a couple of weeks”, Herefordshire Council’s director of economy Ross Cook said at a presentation in the Maylords centre last night (May 25).

Planning applications are then expected to be lodged shortly after.



“Our beautiful museum has been left to its own devices for some time. But we have great people who will now give our city a cultural centre,” the council’s head of procurement Gemma Davies said.

“People say, ‘why don’t you spend money on roads instead’, but visitors will spend more when they come here,” she added.

Maylords Orchard shopping centre was built in 1984 and bought by the council for £4 million in June 2020 in the wake of the pandemic.

Architect Emma Taylor explained how part of Maylords will become a “digital and cultural hub” alongside its existing shops, with building work scheduled to begin next February.

Externally, Maylords “needs to draw people in” from key nearby viewpoints via the “underused” Trinity Square, she said, which the café to the left of the entrance will “spill out into”.

The square “used to be a regular space for performances, and we want to bring that back”, Coun Davies added.

Inside, the large escalator at the centre of the main atrium will be replaced by a staircase, “which will occupy half as much space”, Ms Taylor said.

Occupying both floors, the library will be larger than its current floor space, and will have study areas “dotted around both floors”, she added.

Meanwhile work to transform the current museum and library on Broad Street “could start in the middle of next year”, Ms Taylor’s colleague Paul Neep said.

Re-imagining the listed building was “a complicated process”, he said. “It has issues, and work is need to secure its future. There is limited access to the upper floors, which are falling into disrepair.”

The renovation will be done to the EnerPHit standard, which Mr Neep said will “dramatically reduce” heat loss through insulation, leading to 70 per cent less energy use.

“So there will be a cost uplift at the start of around £0.5 million, but a £17 million saving over the 60-year lifespan of the building,” he said.

Inside, the new exhibition space would be four times larger than that at present, he explained. Internal areas will be opened up, creating venues for school parties and events, while a curved staircase will give access to the rooftop area.

Here, “great views of the city” will be augmented by virtual reality, “to show how it used to look”, Mr Neep said.

Coun Davies added on this: “In any other city, these views would be used by now. We can’t over-sell them.”

“If we get this right, we will have an internationally acclaimed museum,” she said. “People will come to see the building itself, not just the contents.”

But the Grayson Perry exhibition in the art gallery in December had thrown up accessibility issues for some. “Everyone should have access,” she said.