Little has been heard about future improvements or re-development of the Edgar Street stadium recently. The Blackfriars Enclosure remains an eyesore. And yet Herefordshire Council once had a vision. They would turn the home of the Bulls into a multi-sports and leisure centre for the County.
Whatever happened to the Edgar Street Leisure Hub?
Back in 2002, all seemed clear. Councillor Terry James outlined his proposal.
Following the last meeting of Herefordshire Council and the unanimous agreement for the continuing designation of Edgar Street as a football ground, it is now important that we put firmly behind us any suggestion of a major food retail development on the site. We now have to look to the future use of the area that will bring benefit to the Herefordshire community as well as regenerating one of the more run-down parts of Hereford.
Much of what I am proposing for the Edgar Street site is already in the public domain but it is important that I bring all the elements together as well as give a clear idea of what can and hopefully will happen on the site.
Edgar Street would become a multi-sports and Leisure Centre with the relocation and building of a larger and more modern Leisure Centre, this being incorporated into one end of the development. The other side would be part of a multiplex/cinema development, something long overdue in Hereford. The third stand would be developed to incorporate a separate exhibition/arts and conference area linked to the Courtyard Centre, thereby giving the connection that could link to the building of a new Arts Academy. The final stand of the Edgar Street ground would then be left for development of the hospitality club and social side of Hereford United and this would become the area principally used for commercial activity to help finance the future of the Club.
Because the development would be divided into four elements – two managed by the public sector and a third by the commercial sector – it will then only require 25% of the building to be maintained by the Club itself with the whole ground then being available for other uses like festivals, rallies and large scale events.
The development would become a centre for a number of other sports as well as football, anything from karate to bridge, being a truly multi-sports centre and being in a strategic regeneration zone will give it an extra edge in attracting public funding from a number of sources.
The Council itself would build its own Headquarters on the adjoining area thereby allowing it to dispose of the twenty office buildings it now operates from, using the savings from such a move as well as the capital received from their disposal to finance the development. With the possibility of the Arts Academy being part of the development, a modern hotel, conference facilities, leisure centre, cinema, theatre, sports clubs, arts exhibition centre, cafes and restaurants all within a short distance of each other this will make Hereford the social, leisure and cultural centre of the Marches making Hereford the place to come to and the place to be. Linked to the City Centre this will give support to the commercial heart of Hereford with further retail developments within the City walls.
Already we have received expressions of interest from 22 different development companies interested in working with the Council to develop the area. We are now engaged in the task of deciding which will work with us to give the best deal for Herefordshire.
THE Hereford United board of directors released the following statement after Herefordshire Council Leader Terry James outlined his plan for the Edgar Street site.
The statement read: “The Board of Directors of HUFC are delighted to acknowledge the statement of Cllr Terry James that Herefordshire Council have now confirmed their vision for the future development of Edgar Street, including the Football Club”.
Progress on some of the proposals from 2002 have actually come to fruition in 2019, but we still can’t sign up for karate lessons at Edgar Street!