The county’s archive records will soon be enjoying new cost efficient and purpose built accommodation at Rotherwas in Hereford as the official sod cutting for the new facility took place yesterday (Thursday 22 August).
The new building will have better access for visitors and be more energy efficient, with running costs significantly less because of the leading edge “passivhaus” design.
Currently the majority of the county’s archive records are stored at a building in Hereford that does not meet the environmental and access standards required by The National Archives for accreditation and is in need of extensive and costly repair.
Herefordshire Council has been working with consultants EC Harris, contractors Kier Construction and architects Architype to design a new facility which will comply with Government regulations for storing archival records.
Mark Barry, from Architype Hereford said: “Architype is delighted to be involved in shaping this important and exciting public project. From the initial feasibility stage, we have worked very closely with the client team and end users to develop a design response that meets the requirements and inherently has a low energy demand.
“This building will be the first building of this type in the UK, to be certified to the Passivhaus standard – the most rigorous energy standard in Europe, and in all likelihood, it will also be the first archive building in the UK to be built to the latest standards for the storage and exhibition of archival materials (PD5454). This challenge is a real testament to the commitment and collaboration of the client, design team and contractor.”
Cllr Roger Phillips, cabinet member for economy and culture said: “I’m delighted we are now underway and that the new centre will ensure we comply with national standards and will keep the county’s archive records in the county.
“If we were to lose accreditation for storing our archives and records, we would have to look at having them stored outside the county in an accredited facility.
“The fundamental issue in relation to the remote storage of archives and records is that the responsibility, including costs, for storing of and retrieving the records remains with the local authority concerned. This also extends to providing transport, and any associated security, to bring the archives and records back to the county to meet customer demands.”
“The new facility will mean people will have much better access to the archived records and have a place to research and learn about our county’s history for years to come.”
The new centre will offer a range of social and community outreach programmes, a dedicated educational room and improved facilities and access for the public.
It will also bring the archive, the county's archaeology unit, the historic environment record, and the biological records centre together inone building, allowing people access to all these records in one place.
The £8.1m facility is being funded from the council’s capital programme and is allocated for accommodation and forms part of the council’s commitment to reducing the number and running costs of council buildings.
The plans to build the new facility were approved in January this year and the construction is due to be completed for opening in September 2014. More information on the project can be found on the councils website www.herefordshire.gov.uk/HARC