Today, developer Stanhope is delighted to announce that full planning consent has been secured for its 310,000 sq ft Old Market development in Hereford. The £80 million retail and leisure scheme will deliver an extension of the city centre streetscape, complementing the existing retail offer and boosting both the daytime and evening economy.

Stanhope has spent more than three years working alongside Hereford Futures and Herefordshire Council to develop its plans for an open and modern retail and leisure space for the city. The scheme has evolved over this period following conversations with local people, businesses and stakeholders, to ensure it provides what the city and its residents need. The approval of the Reserved Matters planning application today marks the next chapter for the development, with preparations now well underway to commence demolition in January, in order to start the build in spring 2012.

The announcement comes at a time when Hereford has enjoyed added economic success following the granting of Enterprise Zone status for the Rotherwas industrial estate.

The Old Market site will provide the city with a department store, along with a six-screen multiplex Odeon cinema, a Waitrose supermarket and some 25 additional retailers and restaurants. The entire project is being wholly funded by the private sector and will boost the city’s visitor numbers while retaining more local shoppers in the city centre, avoiding loss of trade to competing cities and retail destinations in the region.

Alistair Shaw of Stanhope comments: “We are very pleased that Herefordshire Council’s planning committee has given us the go-ahead to progress the Old Market and are excited that this will now pave the way for us to begin demolition and construction in earnest in the new year.

“We have shared the Council’s vision for Hereford City Centre from the start, and by working with the local community and a wide range of the city’s stakeholders, have been able to align our detailed design with their aspirations for this beautiful and historic city.”

“By investing in new public realm and architecture, we will be able to attract major new retail tenants, increasing the diversity of the retail offer in Hereford and providing an unprecedented boost to the city’s regional retail status.”

Architects, Allies & Morrison and Leslie Jones, have worked tirelessly to ensure the scheme marries well with the rest of the city centre, drawing on the architecture found elsewhere in Hereford and carefully considering routes and movement flows for the streetscape.

The primary building materials used in the development will be Hereford brick, render and timber. The department store will have an asymmetrical metal pitched roof, providing a visual landmark when approaching the scheme from the south that is informed by the architectural vernacular of the former livestock market. An ordered and varied array of brick and render retail shop fronts and restaurants will continue the architectural composition of the redevelopment; their design and scale informed by High Town and Widemarsh Street.

Paul Appleton, Partner at Allies & Morrison comments: “It has always been our intention to ensure the delivery of a sensitive extension to Hereford, reflecting the distinct architectural heritage and identity. We have made a strong cohesion with the city centre our priority. This is why our detailed design has been directly informed by a close study of Hereford’s spatial realm and built fabric, to create new streets and public spaces that are sympathetic with the existing architecture and that link seamlessly with the rest of the city.”

A modern road crossing system across Newmarket Street has also been designed to encourage pedestrian routes throughout the city centre. This will introduce raised table pedestrian crossings and will remove the central railing and pens that currently break the flow of movement.

The consideration of physical links, as well as visual connections, with the rest of the city was noted by the respected independent organisation, Midlands Architecture and the Designed Environment (MADE), as a particular strength of the development plans. David Tittle, Head of Design Excellence at MADE said “the scale of the buildings and spaces in the development are sympathetic to Hereford, and the indicative massing and architectural treatment look to combine aspects of local character with modern forms and use of materials.”

He went on: “Another imaginative and progressive initiative is the plan for transforming Newmarket Street from a traffic-dominated inner ring road to a pleasant city street.”

Cllr John Jarvis, leader of Herefordshire Council, added: “We are delighted that the planning committee has granted the final consent required for the development of the Old Market. Stanhope and the wider design team have analysed and responded to the needs of the people of Herefordshire, and have fully taken into account the importance of connections with the city centre and its historic architecture; this has made the decision to approve the detailed design a very obvious one for the planning committee.

“Now is an exciting time as we look forward to what is to come; new retail and restaurant names, a new department store for the city, a major boost to the local economy, improved visitor numbers and hundreds of new jobs for local people.”