Herefordshire Council’s cabinet was asked to give its final stamp of approval to a deal which paves the way for work on the £90 million regeneration of the Old Market site when it met earlier this month.
The council’s overview and scrutiny committee met to discuss this decision on Friday last week and its recommendations were considered when cabinet met today, Monday, April 16.
The original deal was approved by cabinet in June 2009 - cabinet was today asked to sign off variations to this agreement in the light of overview and scrutiny committee’s recommendations.
“This decision means the developers, Stanhope, can now proceed with a funding deal which will bring a multi-screen cinema, shops and restaurants to the city centre,” said Cllr John Jarvis, leader of Herefordshire Council.
“This is a great deal for the city and a great deal for the county. These new shops, leisure facilities and restaurants will bring more people into the city to spend their money here.
“This is an opportunity to create a healthy and vibrant city centre economy with a high-quality retail offer with top quality leisure facilities - exactly what people want and exactly what we need,” added Cllr Jarvis.
“We constantly hear from people that they want to see something really positive happening in Hereford city centre and we feel that today's decision will enable this to happen.
“The hoardings are now going up around the site and Stanhope has confirmed that everything remains on track to sign the remaining tenant pre-lets and funding papers in a few weeks' time enabling demolition to start soon afterwards.
“This is an historic time for Hereford. Future generations will benefit from the decision we have made today and it’s something I’m particularly proud to have been part of.
“But, like many people, I’m acutely aware that Hereford city has limited appeal to support the night-time economy and we’re losing many of our younger generation to cities outside of the county. The Old Market will give local people, and in particular the young, a reason to stay in Hereford, and outsiders a reason to visit the city.
“It will mean a number of jobs for local people during the construction phase and will mean around 1,100 permanent jobs once the development is open for business.
“People have waited for this day for a very long time - I’m delighted that as far as the council is concerned, we now have the final jigsaw piece in place.”
• The Old Market development comprises two new open streets, a public square and 600 new car parking spaces.
• The scheme covers an area a little more than 310,000sq ft., mostly over two storeys – of this, 55,000sq ft. will be taken up by the cinema, restaurants and cafes
• When trading, it is estimated that the development will provide more than 1,100 new jobs for people within the city
• The cinema will have six screens, be fully digital and 3D enabled, with a capacity of 1,100 people. As well as showing films, the venue will be capable of showing live screenings of opera, ballet, music concerts and festivals
• The Old Market development will be one of the first BREEAM Excellent schemes of its type in the UK – BREEAM is the recognised environmental code for commercial buildings and Excellent is the second highest standard of attainment
• Once the principal building contractor has been appointed, tenders will go out for trade packages worth around £45 million as well as packages of work to fit out each of the retail and catering units once they are let
• Stanhope, the developers, has already held an open day in Hereford to which local companies were invited to highlight the work opportunities which will be available due to the scheme
• Herefordshire Council and Hereford Futures are working with local companies to ensure they can compete with national interest when the tenders for the work are made public
• The construction of the scheme heralds unprecedented opportunities for local people to become trained in skills that will help them secure employment once the project is complete. Herefordshire Council and Hereford Futures has applied to the National Skills Academy for Construction for approved status. This will maximise employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities for local residents. We are expecting 25 work placements, 3 graduate jobs, 30 apprentices, 26 NVQ starts for trade contractors, 18 NVQ completions for trade contractors and 30 training plans for trade contractors.
• Plans are well advanced for the promotion of a series of training courses for people wishing to work in the 1,100 retail, catering and hospitality jobs once the development opens.
• 75 per cent of people who responded when Stanhope held a public exhibition in High Town supported the development
• Herefordshire Council will retain the freehold of the site, meaning it retains a high degree of control over the development – this could not have been achieved had the council simply sold the site to a developer