In October 2017 the Urban Panel from Historic England visited Hereford. The Urban Panel were invited to Hereford, primarily, to consider how the City might best accommodate the new University, to examine what sort of framework might need to be in place to assist its delivery, and what might need to happen in Hereford, itself, to ensure that the potential wider benefits are realised. Its conclusions in its report are worth quoting here. They were also asked, as a secondary issue, to review what has happened in the Edgar Street Grid since their last visit (ten years ago).
‘First impressions are very important in determining people’s perceptions about a place. The sense of arrival at Hereford Station is quite awful. A decade ago, when the Panel last visited, there were plans under consideration to create a new high-quality public space in front of this rather attractive mid-nineteenth Century railway building. However, nothing has happened. Just what impression the large expanses of car parking, the uninspiring buildings opposite, and the prospect of crossing a busy inner-relief road might have upon people’s perceptions of Hereford one can but imagine. The Panel fully accepts that this new road is absolutely necessary to reduce the severance caused by the A438 between the historic core of the settlement and the Edgar Street Grid. However, lessons should be learned from the success of the works undertaken at Newmarket Street/Blue School Street and Members earnestly hoped that Herefordshire Council would strive to create an environment between the railway station and the City Centre through which pedestrians will pass with ease and pleasure.’
There is an urgent need to reassess the creation of a welcoming environment, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, in the foreground of Hereford’s historic Victorian railway station together with the vital matter of connectivity between the station, transport hub and the city centre.