OPEN LETTER FROM THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL
Redevelopment of Old Livestock Market,
I am writing to everyone who has previously expressed an interest in the future of the city to let you know that on Thursday 5th April, the Cabinet of Herefordshire Council will be meeting to finalise the terms of the agreement that will enable our development partner Stanhope Plc to begin work on this long awaited project. This exciting £90 million development will be a great boost to the economy and people of both Hereford and the whole county.
In recent years, we have taken several major strategic decisions. In 2005, we agreed to back the Rotherwas Relief Road; three years later, the road was opened. We now know that its existence led directly to the government granting us Enterprise Zone status and has also protected many hundreds of existing jobs in businesses which have shown loyalty to Rotherwas and the county for decades.
In 2006, we decided to build a new livestock market. I know that, like the road, there were those who didn’t agree with that decision. However, since the market opened, trade has grown by 30 per cent and it is still increasing. We have a livestock market that our agricultural community can be proud of and which is fit for the future. Just like we did for the Rotherwas businesses, we showed confidence in our farmers; the result is that the county’s economy is now reaping the rewards.
Although not on the same scale, in 2009 we took the decision to relocate the open retail market from the Old Livestock Market site to the very heart of the city centre; again some people doubted that the retail market would be successful there and were concerned that it would provide excessive competition to existing retailers. Time has shown that, not only does our city centre look and feel more vibrant on market days, the concerns about there being an overall negative impact have not been realised.
Big decisions like these are always controversial, none more so than choosing to build a department store, six screen Odeon cinema and a new Waitrose. There’ll also be twenty other shops and seven restaurants and cafes on the old market site along with 600 new car parking spaces and significant investment by the private sector, in roads, pavements and squares.
I believe that backing this plan is the right decision and it’s time for the talking to stop and for action to start.
At present, we lose many millions of pounds spent every month to other towns and cities outside the county. This new development will mean, on average, an extra £165,000 will be spent in Hereford every day of the year by people visiting the cinema, the shops and the restaurants. When they come, they’ll want to see what else Hereford and the county has to offer which is why we have invested in Widemarsh Street and the Cathedral Close and why we’ll be doing the same for Broad Street after this year’s Three Choirs Festival has finished.
While the shops and restaurants are being built, not only will there be construction jobs on offer, but also more than £45 million of contracts to be won; once building is complete, over 1,000 people will be able to find new jobs, and there will be training opportunities for our young people.
When the shops and restaurants open, they will be paying business rates, estimated at well over £2.5 million every year. The government has promised that we will keep the lion’s share of that and we’ll use it to boost the county’s economy every year.
I know how important this development is to most Herefordians, especially the young, so many of which leave for the bright lights of other cities. I am determined to change that forever which is why I and the administration remain totally committed to supporting this scheme.
I hope to see many of you at Hereford’s new cinema or department store in the not too distant future.
Councillor John Jarvis
Leader Herefordshire Council