On behalf of the Hereford BID, NMITE, HFC and Enterprise Zone
Hereford City is going through the most significant phase of its development in recent history; changes which will alter its landscape, both economically and socially forever.
The current activity across the city will contribute to the economic wellbeing of Hereford by stimulating the creation of hundreds of news jobs and hundreds of new homes. The city will become a centre of excellence for the technology industry and will welcome new industry as a result.
In the last eighteen months Hereford has seen a transformation in its retail offer which has catapulted it into the top 100 shopping destinations in the country; a huge jump of some 38 places. This is, of course, due to the development of its old livestock market site. The site has seen £90m of private investment which has regenerated a site that was no longer fit-for-purpose as an inner city marketplace. The next few years will also see the development of around 800 new homes on the remainder of the Edgar Street Grid site.
The movement of the livestock market proved to be an inspired decision, with new out-of-town facility trading as well as the top five in the UK.
It seems then, that Hereford businesses voting ‘yes’ to becoming a Business Improvement District (BID) was a natural progression and one that would allow the whole city to compete as a regional shopping destination, bringing the old and new elements of the city centre together under one BID umbrella. The BID will bring in an extra £1.5m investment to the retail core.
John Jones, who has championed the BID from its inception said, “We have worked really hard to sell the benefits of the BID to retailers big and small. Every single business sets to gain from a ‘one city’ cohesive approach to its maintenance, streetscape enhancements and marketing the retail offer.”
Hereford’s new university project is making great progress with the New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMITE) expecting its first 300 students on campus by September 2017.
NMITE seeks to radically change the way engineering and related technologies are taught in Britain. Its aim is to help tackle the growing shortage of graduates who combine such degrees with the broad range of additional applied analytical thinking, innovation, interpersonal and leadership skills which employers look for in candidates.
Karen Usher, co-leader of the development team said, “March 2015 marks the point at which Britain gets a new university to help address the country's chronic shortage of suitable technology and engineering graduates.
The combination of widespread backing from three world-class academic partners means that our doors will open in autumn 2017 for the first students to enter this ground-breaking new university in a brand new campus in Hereford's historic centre.”
To complement the city’s aspiration to become a centre of excellence in the fields of engineering and technology, Hereford Enterprise Zone, Skylon Park, has seen significant progress.
Chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, Bill Jackson said: “The five companies currently invested on the Zone are forecasting the creation of more than 140 jobs within the first three years of operation in their new premises, these are locally based companies expanding their operations.
“Having a City with ambitions to grow and flourish is important for the Enterprise Zone. A first class quality of life enhanced by the improved facilities at the Old Market Site and a vibrant City Centre coupled with the aspirations for higher education delivered locally focused on the needs of business makes our offer more enticing both for expanding local firms and business from further afield.”
Another success story for the city is the inception of Hereford Football Club; the club has emerged to ensure the continuation of football at the much loved Edgar Street Football Ground.
The group, which is being led by Jon Hale, includes a number of long-term Edgar Street season ticket holders who also have a great deal of business experience.
After a huge amount of hard work, and after Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) members overwhelmingly voted to support the Hereford FC proposal, in late February 2015 Mr Hale and the group reached a deal with Herefordshire Council to become the new tenants at Edgar Street for five seasons, meaning an application could be made to the Football Association to participate from the start of the 2015/16 season.
Jon Hale said, ‘After some really tough times in the past 12 months, we are determined to give football fans in Hereford something to really smile about.
‘Hereford FC will have the best interests of supporters right at its very heart and the aim is to create a community focused club that everyone in Herefordshire, or with links to the county, can be very proud of.’