Roof garden idea for iconic Hereford building revealed

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A roof garden and a ‘square’ at street level are part of the redevelopment plans for Hereford’s main museum and art gallery.

The Grade II listed Victorian building on Broad Street is set to become the ‘Steps Experience’, the centerpiece of a multi-million pound city improvement program over the next few years.

A feasibility report prepared for Herefordshire Council by a local architectural firm outlines a range of design options for the project, each featuring a roof garden in one form or another.

“A key feature of the proposed scheme is a cultural pathway on the roof of the historic building offering views of the city,” he says – while giving priority to pedestrians in front of the building “could re-establish Broad Street as a hub of cultural activity”.

The new attraction would become ‘a national destination’ bringing visitors to the town center and showcasing the county’s heritage collections such as the Viking-era Herefordshire Hoard, with the means to become economically self-sufficient, the report says.

The cost of the £15million project is to be split three ways between the government’s Stronger Towns Fund, the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Herefordshire Council’s own resources.

Cabinet members of the Council are expected to approve £1.5m this week to fund the detailed design of the scheme and ensure it clears planning and regulatory hurdles.

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Meanwhile, the library currently in the same building will be moved to a new learning center in Maylords Orchard shopping centre, which the council bought for £4million in June 2020.

Councilors are now also prepared to accept £250,000 to draw up detailed plans for this.

Both projects must now submit full business cases by June 2022 in order to access government funding.

But the museum’s feasibility report describes that timeline as “very ambitious” and warns the likely non-specialist project managers on the board “risk serious oversight of the intricacies and specialties required for a project of this magnitude”.

“Very low current staffing levels” on the board also mean “limited resources able to commit to the project and then provide the revenue-generating services needed to support it,” the report adds.

Maylords Orchard’s feasibility report stresses that the library relocation project “is vital to enable the museum project to move forward”.

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