Documents leaked to the Heckler from high inside the council show that the proposed multi-screen cinema – seen by many as an incentive to bring skeptical Herefordians on side – is very likely to be struck out of the deal at next Thursday’s secret cabinet meeting.
It means that the scaled down ESG will now offer only retail and no entertainment, civic quarter or housing as originally planned.
And barely even that. It seems that apart from a Debenhams – still only a ‘maybe’ – and a supermarket – another ‘maybe’ – there will be precious little other building activity for some time.
Herefordshire Council will become joint development partners with Stanhope and British Land, but all that the council will get out of the deal will be £1.5m ‘in kind’ towards the refurbishment of the multi-storey car park.
Stanhope are said to be no longer interested in Garrick House as it now falls outside the newly redrafted development area, meaning the council are lumbered with an empty building after moving its information centre down the road to the old Franklin Barnes.
Other details released show that, despite the recently revised completion date of 2014, there will be no need to have work finished before 2057, which means Hereford could potentially be stuck with a city centre building site for near 45 years.
There will be no sale of the old cattle market until 2017 when British Land will be given an option to purchase the site at prevailing land values (which will doubtless be haggled over by opposing surveyors). All restrictions against existing city centre multinationals being offered rental inducements to move to the site will be scrapped.
Stanhope and Herefordshire Council are expected to encourage shops such as Marks & Spencer, Boots and other big names already established in High Town and around across the ring road with rent-free holidays and business rate-free periods.
Herefordshire Council’s cabinet meeting will agree these proposals next Thursday, 5th April at 2.00pm (at Brockington, Hafod Road). Their website currently states that this meeting will be open to the public but that certain details will be agreed behind closed doors, away from both public and press.