Regular contributors to Place, the society’s newsletter, were asked to “think laterally” and come up with interesting solutions to the city’s problems.
There was the obvious:
• A light rail metro service running from Hereford’s train station, through the city centre, along the Great Western Way and out to Rotherwas;
• Tree-lined streets repurposed to encourage cycling and walking, with motor vehicles travelling at a “slow tip-toe”;
• A riverside walk along the north bank of the Wye between the east side of the Left Bank building along to the Castle Green;
• A ‘Herefordshire centre’ incorporating a library, council customer service office, a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, tourist office, cafe etc. (we’ll overlook the ludicrous proposal to build this on the site of the football ground).
There was the innovative and inspiring:
• A single, striking 50-odd storey skyscraper, perhaps in the backyard of the old Bath Street council offices, built as student accommodation for the new university;
• A plan to encourage more office workers and renovated offices in Hereford’s city centre (“Preston abandoned big retail development plans saying – wisely – they would prefer to have more office workers (and more resident students) about during the day. They argued that if they had enough day-time spenders the shops would follow of their own accord);
• An elevated cycle roadway built over the ring road and running south over the river.
And there was the ridiculous and unworkable:
• A proposal to grass over the ring road and Commercial Street in an effort increase street tranquility;
• A council-backed scheme to encourage hitchhiking as a more casual lift-share initiative for workers.
What Hereford Civic Society consistently demonstrates though is that there are many people around Herefordshire with interesting and practical solutions to improving our built and natural environments.
What we want is input and ideas from everyone across the county to make our part of the world a better place to live. What we get is a handful of councillors and bureaucrats that alone are responsible for planning our infrastructure and town development.
Given that many of these people are so long in the tooth and jaded that they surely struggle to come up with an interesting idea for dinner, is it any wonder that Hereford, our towns and villages are in the poorly planned state they are?
We need progressive, resident-led planning not top-down, enforced civic banality.