Herefordshire is to commit a further £3.5 million to ensure Hereford’s two flagship regeneration projects go ahead.

The conversion of the current library and museum on Broad Street into a “world-class” exhibition and event space and the relocation of the library into a revamped Maylords Orchard shopping centre are the centrepieces of the £22.4 million Stronger Towns Fund package that Herefordshire Council successfully bid for a year ago.

It now has to make a detailed bid for this by the end of the month, based on plans it has since worked up on each, with the approval of the independent Stronger Towns Board and the council’s cabinet.

But cabinet will now be asked next week to approve a £3.5 million increase in what the council will pay into the two schemes – “to allow for contingencies, given the world we are now in”, the council’s interim service director for economy Roger Allonby said.

“It’s not taking money from elsewhere, it’s from council reserves from selling off assets, to use in the city,” he explained.

With the largest Towns Fund budget, the “transformation” of the Broad Street building will become “an iconic attraction for the city” that will repay the investment, Mr Allonby said.

“We project it will draw 75,000 people a year. Right now the exhibition space can only host 10 people at a time due to fire regulations.”

This is forecast to lead to £2.5 million annual visitor spend in the city, “which would have a multiplier effect, bringing inward investment and stimulating the city’s night-time economy”, he said.


The £15 million total budget for this was to have been met equally by the Government’s Stronger Towns Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the council’s own reserves.

But next week the cabinet will be asked let this share rise to £8 million, “to allow for cost inflation, in order to achieve our ambition”, Mr Allonby said.

“Hereford can punch above weight in heritage and culture,” cabinet member for procurement and assets Gemma Davies said.

“Investment here repays itself many times over. We know this is the right move for Herefordshire.”

The project will see an opening up of the building’s entrance, while currently inaccessible upper floors will be brought back into use thanks to a new staircase and lift – also accessing a new panoramic roof terrace.

The enlarged exhibition space is intended to display the historic Herefordshire Hoard, if the council can raise funding to acquire it, as well as displaying many other historic items currently in storage.

“It will also be able to attract international exhibitions, giving local people a regular turnover in the offer,” Mr Allonby said. “The recent Lego and Grayson Perry exhibitions were small compared to what we can host in future.”

It will also be an “exemplar” of a sustainable repurposed historic building, “of which there aren’t many in the world”, Coun Davies said. “The building itself will attract people, not just what’s in it. It will be breathtaking.”

Cabinet will also be asked to approve a further £500,000 to the renovation and repurposing of the Maylords Orchard centre, originally budgeted at £7 million.

This will double up as a library and place to access advice and services such as well-being and adult learning, accessible by existing public transport

“As retail declines, it will create a new focus for the city centre,” Roger Allonby said, adding that not to invest in it would risk it becoming “a liability and an eyesore”.

The library stay open seven days a week, he added, though this will mean “putting in long-term revenue support”. However it will generate income of “at least £60,000 a year”, he said.

“We don’t want it competing with High Town or the Old Market,” Coun Davies said, adding that when growing up in Hereford with little money to spare, “I would go to the library on Saturdays, it was a different world, and free”.