Herefordshire Council has been successful in its bid for £19.9m of funding from the national ‘Levelling-Up Fund’ to help deliver a package of transport and active travel measures.
The most notable element of the bid is the development of a new integrated Transport Hub, which will link cycling, walking, bus and rail transport in the City. The £10m Hub, in which the Council has already invested £3m, will encourage a shift away from reliance on cars, providing an easy-to-use, reliable link to alternative modes of transport. As well as covered cycle facilities and lockers to encourage commuter cycle parking, the Hub will provide new bus stands and layovers, taxi and car parking areas, including commuter and short term parking, and welfare facilities.
The package also includes Active Travel Measures both North and South of the River Wye.
Areas North of the River will benefit from a cycle scheme from Aylestone Hill along the A465 and Commercial Road, linking the north and east of the county to the Transport Hub, the city centre, and routes south of the river. Enhancements to St Owen Street one-way cycle scheme will improve access to the Town Centre and links to Rotherwas; Blueschool Street and Newmarket Street will see new bus priority measures; and there will be improvements to the Great Western Way off-road walking & cycling path.
Meanwhile, work will be carried out South of the River to introduce or improve a number of informal ‘Quiet Routes’ to the Hereford Enterprise Zone to encourage more of the people who work there and who live in neighbouring housing to walk or cycle to work. To complement this work, there will be a series of improvements along the Holme Lacy Cycleway to encourage more and safer active travel to work and local services.
There will also be Safer Routes to School initiatives, and new 20mph speed limits in appropriate areas across the City, to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “We are delighted that our bid for funding has been successful, and the investment will provide a real boost to our plans to improve transport in Hereford. The package of measures will improve connections between residential, employment and leisure locations, making it easier and safer for people to choose sustainable means of transport. This will in turn provide health benefits, along with improved air quality, and reduced noise and traffic congestion.
“This is one element of the joined up approach we are taking to improving our local transport offer and public spaces. The draft Masterplan is currently out for consultation, we are continuing work to outline the strategic business case for the Eastern River Crossing, and there is exciting progress being made on our Stronger Towns schemes and other transport projects, including Electric Buses and the development of Station Approach.”
The funding bid was part of an ambitious triple bid for £44m of investment in the county, but unfortunately the other two bids, including development of the Ross Enterprise Park, were not successful.
“Of course, we are disappointed,” added Cllr Hitchiner. “We had confidence in the strength of all three bids, but we recognise it is a competitive process, with Authorities across the country vying for funding to improve their local areas. However, we remain committed to these other projects that are so vital to ensuring the ongoing strength of our local economy, and we will continue to explore the available funding options.”
Last year the Gazette reported on the county council bid to seek £19m to develop a seven-hectare Ross Enterprise Park it owns, with hopes of up to 1,250 new jobs.
The bid, which was designed to address an identified shortage of employment land in the area, also includes cash to develop transport links to the rest of the town from the site. A Herefordshire Council report said that, if approved, it could generate £195m of business over ten years.