HEREFORDSHIRE Council is ready to free up millions of pounds worth of land and buildings for a future university in the county.

Next month, a single councillor will sign off  on the council starting talks with New University Herefordshire (NUH) over six "start up" sites for student accommodation, administration and teaching.

The sites are identified in a "forward plan" that pitches two city centre office blocks - Franklin House and Blueschool House - to NUH at less than full market value if not transferred under lease.

Land on the city's planned link road, off  Canal Road, and at North Magazine, Rotherwas, is also offered.

The city's present fire station in St Owen Street makes the list too.

There, the council has a deal pending with Hereford  & Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority (HWFRA) that would see the station site swapped for that of the council's adjacent Bath Street offices - Hereford's former working boys home.

That deal was signed off by Councillor Harry Bramer, cabinet member for contracts and assets, who is expected to sign off starting the talks with NUH - now a tertiary education trust  - next month.

In March, the full council passed a resolution backing the university project with time limited options on land and buildings seen as the most practical offer.

The forward plan values Franklin House and Blueschool House at £800k and £500k respectively with consent needed from Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which has an interest in both sites.

Land on the link road is valued at £800k, the fire station £500k and North Magazine £200k per acre.

Canal Road, however, won't be available for another four years.

These sites would be sold to the university at full market value if a sale can be achieved by  April next year and the council also wants protection clauses allowing it to take sites back should that be necessary.

Karen Usher, NUH project leader, said the council continued to be a part of “productive conversations” over likely locations for the university.

“We welcome the support,” she said.