A new sports and community growing area for Herefordshire has taken a step closer with the publication of a formal planning application for the Southside project.

Over 14 hectares of land at Ashley Farm, Grafton, to the south-west of the city is to get a 3G sports pitch with changing rooms and equipment storage, a community-owned market garden with allotments, polytunnels, a “horticultural skill centre”, packing shed, store and farm shop, a café and kitchen, along with a car park and access roads.

The plan has been put forward by NMITE, the city’s New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering, working with Belmont Wanderers FC and Hereford-based community interest company Growing Local.

It will require a new “multifunctional, largely single-storey community hub building”, the new application says, accessible from both the new sports pitches to the north-east, and the horticultural area to the southwest.

Different images with the application show the planned main building on an area currently occupied by a tree belt between the two areas, and wholly within the sports area. Growing Local educational officer Louisa Foti confirmed that, following consultation, the initial proposal “was quickly rejected and a new site agreed a considerable distance from the hedge/trees”.

The new application is for outline permission only, with details of buildings and landscaping expected to be submitted later.


The Southside project is to receive £3.7 million of the £22.4-million Stronger Towns funding from the Government, topped up by a further £613,000 from the Football Foundation.

According to minutes of a Hereford Stronger Towns Board meeting last month, the project is behind schedule, and will see a £800,000 underspend this financial year.

The minutes also highlight “a number of challenges associated with the transfer of the land and from the council, achievement of planning permission and delivery of the project within the cost envelope”.


“All of these challenges are being addressed, however the project is at the stage where it might be undeliverable in its present form,” the board warned.

But Ms Foti said that since then, “all issues have now been resolved and the project is fully deliverable”.

The planning application, numbered 223281, can be commented on until April 6.

This article has been updated to clarify the location of the proposed building and to correct an error on the project's co-funding partner.

Want to stay up to date with all the latest news for Herefordshire? It's easy, just sign up for our free daily afternoon news briefing here and the day's top stories will be delivered straight to your inbox.