To: Jonathan Bretherton
Subject: Edgar Street Grid
Dear Mr Bretherton
Your PA has kindly said that we could send you a few questions about Hereford United and how it fits into your plans for the redevelopment of the Edgar Street Grid.
Before listing the questions, may I introduce ourselves at Bulls News.
We are five Hereford United fans who produce a website dedicated to all things Hereford United. However, we don’t only report matters on the pitch, we also try and follow other matters such as finance etc. In particular we have posted news on the proposed redevelopments from a time well before the ESG formally came into being.
All of us care about the future of Hereford and realize that the football club/ground is only one part of the grid but in our view an important cog in the hub.
However, we are concerned that improvements are desperately needed at the ground, some of which are so urgent that they can’t wait three or four years before the main work of redeveloping the area starts.
So we’ve come up with these questions – and if you feel we’ve not asked something we should have please feel free to add a few words.
(Please see Questions and Answers below)
We look forward to hearing from you.
Bulls News Team
Thanks for your note – happy to give you some thoughts as follows;
Q1 – Looking at the board of directors of ESG Ltd, there appears to be no-one who lists sport, and in particular football, as one of their interests. Yet Hereford United’s ground is a major feature in the Grid. Would/have you considered(ed) someone on the board with a particular interest in football, or are you happy with the situation?
Answer: Although Charles Ingleby doesn’t list it, I happen to know that he’s a keen follower of Wolves whilst our Chairman is very involved in the sporting world, but with different shaped balls! We are tasked with redeveloping a massive area and whilst I absolutely agree with the importance of the club, we simply can’t claim expertise in everything. So, in answer to your question, yes, I’m very happy to have such a high quality board.
Q2 – It looks as though the ground will stay roughly where it is, much to the relief of most supporters. Can you confirm that is correct?
Answer: Yes. I believe that football grounds should stay in city centres wherever possible because they are an important part of the community and, having worked in football-made cities (Glasgow, Newcastle and Sunderland) I like the feel it brings on matchdays, especially when the home team wins!
Q3 – Given the recent news that building work will not commence for about 4 years, is there a possibility that work at the football stadium could be allowed to start before the rest of the project. Some of the work is quite urgent especially as regards catering and toilet facilities.
Answer: Yes, and I agree that some of this is urgent and there’s no reason from my point of view why facilities can’t be improved – they certainly need it. I would love to see early progress on redevelopment, and will do what I can to help – but any major changes must be in the best interest of the city. What I mean by that is that there is a big difference between replacing worn-out facilities which can happen quickly, an far larger-scale redevelopment which needs to be carefully evaluated and fit in with the bigger picture.
Q4 – It looks as though there will be a reduction in parking spaces in the Merton Meadow car park. It that wise given that it is regularly full on match days?
Answer: We will be promoting significant increases in car parking numbers within the ESG area, but they will be concentrated in multi-storey rather than sprawling surface car parks which take up too much land and look terrible.
Q5 – The Richardsons appear to be the lead developers, certainly as far as the football club are concerned. Speculation suggests that a deal between the Richardsons and Hereford United would be in the best interests of the club as the repayment of the ‘debt’ owed to the Richardsons by the club would be included in any deal. If the two parties wanted to go ahead before the Grid plans were ready would this be a problem? Could ESG Ltd stop any such development going ahead?
Answer: The Richardsons will have a big part to play in the redevelopment of the ground and I hope that we can see this happen quickly. In answer to your question, I don’t speak for the Council, which owns the ground, or the planning authority which will decide whether development gets approved or not, but I have no doubt that our board’s views will be sought. I look forward to seeing some proposals that we can all get behind.
Q6 – What support/grants might be available to the football club for any work in improving its facilities. Would these depend on ESG Ltd involvement?
Answer: I’m not aware of any grants which are available to the football club, but it would be normal for any grant-aiding body to want to know that a company such as ESG was behind the proposals.
We’ll keep you in touch with news and you can also direct people to our website for information.