The new masterplan for Hereford will drive potential visitors away from the city, it has been claimed.

Leader of Herefordshire Council’s six-strong True Independents group Coun Bob Matthews said the draft plan published last week “suits a large urban area rather than a rural county city”, and questioned whether it would achieve its goal of “creating a thriving local economy”.

The 112-page document makes some radical proposals to reduce traffic in the city by encouraging alternative modes of transport.

But this “will merely discourage people from rural areas and adjoining counties from visiting Hereford city, resulting in empty shops, closed banks and the general deterioration of the local economy”, he told a cabinet meeting last Thursday, March 2.


Infrastructure improvements including to trunk roads into the city would still be needed, which combined with a park-and-ride system would “let traffic get about”, he said.

Without these, “it will be so congested, which together with your very stiff car park and street parking charges will just drive people away”, Coun Matthews said, adding: “Others I have spoken to have grave concerns about this.”

On the Masterplan’s proposal to create a residential-led “Station Quarter” to the north of the city’s historic centre, Coun Matthews said: “Most of that land is flood plain, and it will cost the earth to raise the footings of those houses, so how you will keep those ‘affordable’ I don’t know.”

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But he said the plan “has a few good points” including promoting active travel and electric buses, and creating space for nature in and around the city.

Cabinet member for transport Coun John Harrington replied: “We are not different from our neighbours in car parking charges, which we have to use to prevent congestion in the city centre.”

The council “should be thinking about” encouraging people to use alternative transport for short journeys in the city in particular, he said.

“We can’t just be ad-hoc, we have to think about the future. We can’t simply have more and more cars.”


Conservative group leader Coun Jonathan Lester said his 14-strong group “would have benefited from a little more debate (on the plan) before it went to consultation”.

“What’s not to like about the overall aspiration for urban renewal? We welcome this wholeheartedly,” he said. “Everyone in Herefordshire uses Hereford as their service centre and I’m sure they would also welcome any enhancement.”

But he agreed with Coun Matthews that “anything that frustrates use of the car (by residents from outside the city) may have severe consequences to the viability of Hereford itself”.

The plan will have to remain flexible “to cope with changing times”, and consultation on it “should reach out to young and old”, Coun Lester added.

Cabinet member for assets Coun Gemma Davies called for an imaginative approach to this across different platforms, as “consultation on all of our projects is really long and dull”, and disproportionately draws responses “from people who are angry about something”.

“Consultation with the young is so essential, as this is for the future city that retains its young people,” she said.

Leader of the six-strong Liberal Democrats Coun Terry James said he feared people will “latch onto bits of it that they are for or agin, and won’t look at the whole”.

It was “an unfortunate time to bring forward this vast plan”, but it will now “be up to the voting public to say what they think of it, and for the new council to decide how it will happen”, he said.

Cabinet member for economy and environment and leader of the seven-strong Green group Coun Ellie Chowns said the plan “is aligned with what government has said it wants, which is that public transport and active travel should be the natural first choice”.

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