Development | Using public land to support housing delivery across Hereford

The One Public Estate (OPE) programme is driving the NHS Trust, Fire and Police, and Herefordshire Council to maximise their public land potential and work together to deliver economic growth and new homes across Hereford.

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Region: North West, West Midlands

Theme: Housing (in OPE), Blue Lights

The challenge

  • A relative remoteness from the major conurbations
  • Aging demographic 
  • Lack of housing

Instead of dealing with public land surplus on a piecemeal basis, Herefordshire has received OPE funding to carry out a strategic coordinated approach to public land which brings partners together to deliver economic growth and new homes by releasing surplus assets. Such approach will be fundamental to the future sustainability of the county’s economy.

The story

Herefordshire recognised that the OPE formula represents an opportunity to utilise a collaborative approach to the transformation and integration of public services, creating efficiencies, generating economic growth and realising the optimum value from the public estate.

Herefordshire Council’s Local Plan has required the allocation of land for 16,500 new houses up to 2031.  It is considered that land held by public sector partners could contribute significantly towards achieving this housing target over the plan period. 

By receiving circa £160k, Herefordshire aims to deliver over 400 housing units on public sector land through the following three projects:

Police fire hub image
  • Station Approach – release of land for the provision of 178 units of state-of-the-art accommodation for students of Hereford College of Arts and New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMiTE).  Has been completed with the first cohort of students taking residence in September 2021.  The accommodation block has also been used by Wye Valley Trust to house overseas and agency staff. 
  • Station approach photo

     Emergency Services Hub – following a re-evaluation of their estate strategy priorities, the fire and police service are currently looking to remain in their existing locations and examining the viability of refurbishment rather than co-locate.

  • Country Bus Station – this site is still subject to consideration but plans have been on hold whilst the Transport Hub project progresses to enable the bus station to relocate.

Richard Ball, the Acting Director for Economy and Place stated that:

“The OPE programme has provided an invaluable platform to facilitate more strategic discussions on the way that we are viewing public service delivery in Herefordshire.  

OPE has provided pump priming funding to enable projects and initiatives to be planned in a more holistic approach and to be brought forward sooner than would ever have been possible previously.”

Besides from supporting the delivery of our housing needs in Herefordshire, these projects are providing a key component in meeting the aims of the following:

  • aim seven of Herefordshire Council’s Economic Masterplan which supports unlocking development land
  • Herefordshire Council’s Corporate Plan – specifically the priority to “support the growth of our economy”
  • facilitating the aims of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnership
  • the Development Regeneration Partner Programme of works
  • enhancing the collaboration and working between blue light services
  • supporting the council’s aims in developing further education opportunities and to stem the migration of the younger populous from leaving the county.

The outcomes

Herefordshire projects in Central Hereford are forecast to deliver the following outcomes over the next 10 years.

Hard benefits

  • Circa £6.1 million receipts
  • £225,000 revenue savings
  • land released for 400 homes
  • Creation of 100 permanent jobs

Softer benefits

  • Co-location of services ease the customer journey
  • Stronger collaboration between statutory organisations to provide opportunities for future proofing services for better service delivery
  • Enhanced environment for the members of public.