A new “beacon” viewing platform overlooking Hereford is part of detailed plans just announced for the £15 million transformation of the city’s library and museum on Broad Street.

Turning the grade II-listed city centre building into a “a world-class visitor experience” is the centrepiece of the Stronger Towns programme for the city.

The museum work will consume £5 million of this Government funding package, with Herefordshire Council putting in £8 million of its own money, while seeking further funding from the National Lottery.

A listed building consent that Herefordshire Council has submitted to itself, made up of 87 reports and architectural plans, confirms that the work for the five-storey building is to create a new museum, education space, galleries, cafe, and staff facilities.

But the roof-top viewing beacon “is the most important part of the transformational project”, according to a design report with the bid.

“The unique selling point of the experience will be to take in 360-degree views of the surrounding city and countryside beyond,” it says, adding: “Additional augmented viewers will allow them to see the city at different points in its history, so they can see how it has changed and grown over time.”


With glazed walls, the viewing platform’s “clean architectural styling ties in with the cityscape, conservation area, and works to complement adjacent buildings”.

It is intended to be freely accessible during museum opening hours for visitors and school groups, and for events in the evening, with numbers restricted to 20 people at a time.

“In order to reach new audiences and increase access to heritage, it is important that the redeveloped museum offers a variety of experiences, some of which do not feel like ‘traditional museum spaces’, to more reluctant visitors,” the application explains.

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Also benefiting from panoramic views will be a 60-seat café on the rooftop terrace, with a further 20 places in an external roof garden, open six days a week between 10am and 5pm, and until 10pm two nights a week.

Perhaps mindful of the recent controversy around London’s Tate Modern viewing platform from which visitors could see into neighbouring flats, the application explains that the garden will feature planters to “block views into adjacent properties, helping to maintain privacy for all parties concerned”.

The rooftop will also serve as a learning and events space - “a valuable resource for lectures. talks, performances and workshops during the day and evening”.

Hereford Times: cutaway of new Hereford museum designcutaway of new Hereford museum design (Image: Herefordshire Council)

Some of the alterations to the building “will remove historic fabric, but this will be an opportunity to retain and repair heritage features, as well as re-expose and enhance features hidden or damaged by previous works”, it says.

But the front of the building giving onto Broad Street will remain largely unchanged.

The work will “renew and reactivate a powerful, dormant asset in Hereford… contributing to the regeneration and re-purposing of the city as a whole”, it says.

Not to do so would leave the building “in danger of closing altogether or becoming obsolete to the modern generation”.

The council says it aims to approve the application by mid-April.

It expects to close the museum's doors "in spring", with the new attraction opening in summer 2025.

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