Planned multi-million-pound investment in Hereford’s Shirehall, now the preferred venue for the city’s new library and learning centre, has been attacked.

The county’s Conservative administration plans to invest over £6 million in the grade II* listed city-centre building, divided between basic repairs and adapting it to its planned new use, as it rejigs the council's big spending priorities.

But Coun Ellie Chowns, leader of the nine-strong Green group on Herefordshire Council and its previous cabinet member for economy and environment, said this would be “twice the price, and half as nice” as the original plan to put the library in the council-owned Maylord Orchard shopping centre.


Shirehall “is further away, has no pedestrianised access, and is in an unwelcoming building” she said at yesterday’s (October 5) cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile the cost of abandoning the Maylord scheme “has still not been made clear to members”.


“We could have had that, and had money left over for the rest of the county, rather than investing in a building for which we still haven’t seen the full business case,” she said.

Council leader Jonathan Lester said: “I don’t think Shirehall is unwelcoming.

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“It’s an iconic and beautiful building that we should be proud of, whatever its use shall be, and an asset for Herefordshire and this council.”

True Independents group leader Coun Bob Matthews said that having recently toured the building, “there are all sorts of opportunities to put in businesses and deliver the library”.

“We fully support it, and the sooner we get on with it, the better.”