MANDM Direct should be allowed to move its head office to Hereford's Old Market Shopping Centre as it would be a "travesty" if the firm left the county, one local has said.

British Land, which owns the shopping centre, has asked Herefordshire Council if it can turn the top floors of the old Debenhams shop into offices for MandM Direct.

As part of that application, documents showed that the firm had been considering options such as Malvern Tech Park and the Npower building on the M5, with Worcester and Gloucester also being potentially suitable locations.

It wants to move from its head office in Leominster as it is "of poor quality" and makes it difficult to attract the high-skilled employees it needs.

Chairman Mike Tomkins said the firm was a major local success story and, if Herefordshire Council grants planning permission, the move would "support the next phase of the company's journey".

British Land has applied to make changes to the outside of the building, mainly adding a new entrance and windows, and to make vary a previous application as it wants to have 119 free parking spaces for MandM Direct staff.

In the first letter of support or objection to the scheme, Adrian Smith, of Dorchester Way in Hereford, said the plan must be approved.

He said high streets as we used to know them have changed, with internet shopping and the coronavirus pandemic major factors.

And in order to high streets and shopping centre to survive and thrive, he said a mix of retail, work premises and residential was needed.

"As this planning application combines offices and retail I am fully supportive of it," he said.

"More people working in the city means more vibrancy, more spend at lunchtime and after work in the city centre than would otherwise be the case."

He also highlighted that MandM Direct, which has a warehouse at Moreton-on-Lugg, started life in the city, founded in 1987 by Mark Ellis and Martin Churchward.

"As a local success story, it would be a travesty for them to locate elsewhere out of the county," Mr Smith said.

He added: "I Let's get our empty shops and units filled, let's keep the local pound in the local economy and let this employer recruit from within our county."