TWO long-running rows over Hereford’s link road project have been resolved this week.
Royal Mail delivered just what Herefordshire Council wanted yesterday to reach an agreement over the road and its impact on car parking at Hereford’s Station Approach sorting office.
Confirmation of the deal was put to the ongoing public inquiry into the road today ahead of Royal Mail’s objections being heard as evidence.
At the time of going to press, the council confirmed a similar deal with builders' merchant Jewsons over the chain’s site off Canal Road. Jewsons was also listed as a long-time objector to the road.
But the inquiry heard plans for a new Hereford police station on the road’s route between Commercial Road and Edgar Street slammed as an “an absolute pipe dream”.
Timothy Jones, for the council, said any new station on the Essex Arms fields – right in the path of the road – were as unrealistic as they were unaffordable.
“The plan for a new HQ is an absolute pipe dream, there is no finance for it and the whole trend now is for police to economise and amalgamate. The land will continue to be underused and detract from the development around it,” he said.
West Mercia Police currently uses the fields for training dogs but the site has long been seen as a future base for a much-needed new police HQ for the county.
In order to build the link road – initially scheduled to alleviate congestion near the Old Market shopping centre – developers would only need a small part of the Essex Arms site.
The council, however, wants the whole site, without which it cannot progress its plans for an 800 home urban village on and around Merton Meadow.
Council planning officer David Nicholson told the inquiry of doubt within the authority as to whether the police plan would ever realistically come forward anyway.
A key element of the council’s agreements with Royal Mail and Jewsons is the allocation of land from the store's site for new sorting office parking.
Earlier this week the inquiry – one of biggest ever held in the county – was told that a number of alternative routes for the road had been ruled out as “not suitable” despite the number of objections to the 130 compulsory purchase orders the council wanted for the favoured option.
The inquiry which began last Wednesday – has already heard from objectors pitching different routes.
However, Chris Oakley, Herefordshire Council’s transport manager, told the inquiry, which began last Wednesday, that while other routes had been considered, the route selected was the “optimal solution”.
Schemes along the inner ring road itself, along the line of Blackfriars Street and Coningsby Street and along the line of Barrs Court Road were, the inquiry heard, all considered during the master-planning process as were different scales of road within the present corridor for the scheme.
The inquiry continues.