The option of creating a new city library in Hereford’s Maylord Orchards shopping centre is still in play following pressure from councillors.

Herefordshire Council’s cabinet agreed last month to carry out a review of the £3.5-million plan, which came back with the recommendation to locate the library in the city’s currently disused Shirehall instead.

But this morning (July 20) the cabinet bowed to recommendations from the council’s connected communities scrutiny committee (CCSC) to “pause” the Maylord option rather cancel it outright while a full business case for the Shirehall move is developed – effectively retaining Maylord as a fallback option.


The business case will be presented to cabinet for a final decision in October.

Chair of the CCSC Coun Ellie Chowns, who also leads the nine-strong Green group of councillors, said she hoped this “will address the suitability of the Shirehall in terms of accessibility, energy efficiency, and road safety outside”.

It also needed to address “a concerning lack of clarity” on the cost of bringing the damaged historic building back into use, from a £3.6 million figure cited this week, to a £7.5 million figure given to the previous administration’s cabinet in November.


“And it would be unconscionable for the council to bring this building back into use without decarbonising it to the greatest extent possible,” even if this meant higher initial costs, Coun Chowns added.

Council leader Jonathan Lester said the business case “will take on board” these concerns, adding: “Accessibility will be key.”

Today's meeting also revealed the divided opinions of civic groups consulted about the switch.

  • Hereford Business Improvement District (BID) "considered that Maylord as a cultural hub represented better plans for the location of the library", without which it would fail to receive investment.
  • Herefordshire Cultural Partnership said putting the library in the county's only concert hall "would likely be met with stiff opposition from the community".
  • But the backers of the Encore Music Hub said that as it and two other StrongerHereford projects, Rural Media and Powerhouse, are all now planning to locate elsewhere in the city, Maylord was "no longer a suitable location" as a cultural centre.
  • Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries "were not convinced that Maylord Orchards was a sufficient location for the new library".