Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran certainly ruffled plenty of municipal feathers when they brought out their Crap Towns anthology more than 10 years ago. The ‘winner’ was Kingston-upon-Hull, supplanted in the second edition the following year by Luton. Hereford never made it into either of these editions. One wonders whether the dreaded duo ever ventured this far west. After all, it is easy to get lost after the M50 suddenly peters out at Ross-on-Wye.
So, in the hope that Jordison and Kieran are avid Heckler readers—and at the risk of causing Cllr Nick Nenadich’s Positive Hereford Facebook page to crash—here, in reverse order, is our checklist of the city’s 10 worst municipal horrors they should look out for.
10. City library and museum, Broad Street – 140 years old this year, yet it feels like it hasn’t had any TLC in all that time.
9. Walmart’s huge Asda supermarket – Just about the most inappropriate building you could think of to set on a beautiful river bank, together with its totally-unfathomable roundabout (reputedly ‘designed’ by experts from the government’s jack-booted Highways Agency).
8. The dowdy, half-empty Buttermarket, which Herefordshire Council is trying to con the city council into taking over (£1m required for roof repairs and at least another £2m for a top-to-tail modernisation. The city council’s annual budget? £734,960!).
7. The new livestock market, Roman Road – A lost opportunity to put up something architecturally impressive, instead of a timber-slatted mega-shed.
6. The Left Bank restaurant complex – Empty for more than two years (also said to have been mysteriously stripped of many of its fixtures and fittings) now with plans to reopen again as a restaurant and offices.
5. The burnt-out Card Factory/River Island buildings in High Town, an ugly shell for more than three years.
4. The pathetic replacements for the needlessly-desecrated avenue of 10 40-year-old European lime trees on Edgar Street, all so that shoppers will be able to effortlessly drive their cars into the multi-storey car park serving the Waitrose and Debenhams stores in the naffly-named Old Market retail quarter.
3. The hideously over-scaled Old Market retail complex – Looming above the Steels roundabout and described by one city councillor as ‘a blot on the landscape’. There is no truth in the rumour that Stanhope’s next rebranding exercise will be to name it ‘Jarvis’s Folly’.
2. Hereford cathedral’s extravagant and self-important ‘refurbishment’ of Cathedral Close. The money would have been better spent on a more visible and well-stocked foodbank.
1. The disgraceful removal of the Wolverson family’s popular Rockfield DIY store, now a surface-level public car park at a cost of more than £150,000. Any other local authority with vision would have earmarked this site as the location for a state-of-the-art transport interchange. Worcestershire County Council is building the £14m Bromsgrove transport interchange, scheduled to open in 2015. But of course Herefordshire Council doesn’t ‘do’ visionary projects.