Mystery surrounds the future use of a former Jobcentre Plus in the historic heart of Hereford, where refurbishment plans have just been approved.

St Nicholas House, a prominent 1970s building in Berrington Street by the city’s early mediaeval walls near its road bridges and cathedral, appears to have been disused since at least 2018, and has displayed “offices to let” signs for much of the time since.

An application submitted in August by a Jon Richards sought planning permission to re-clad the building and add a new fire escape and “roof extension” – reduced from a roof pavilion and terrace originally proposed.


Backing the proposal, planning officer Simon Rowles said that re-use of the building “is uncontentious, and the social and economic benefits are well understood, notwithstanding the confidentiality maintained over the precise details of the intended commercial use”.

He said the building’s current rough-textured render and brickwork exterior “significantly detract from the sensitive historic setting”, which the proposal aimed to reduce with grey render at ground level and off-white cladding above.


Historic England judged that the rooftop extension would cause “less than substantial harm” and asked that “consideration be given to removing it”. The council’s own historic buildings officer also “strongly objected” to the plan for similar reasons.

But Mr Rowles concluded that even with the roof addition, the benefits from the “aesthetic improvement and sustainable re-use of a vacant building, and enhancing the local economy”, outweighed the harm.

Given its sensitive location, the scheme will also need scheduled monument consent to proceed, he added.