Plans for student accommodation in Hereford have been altered after local residents and involved parties shared their concerns over the design of the buildings.

The application was submitted in October 2018. Following a period of consultation, the applicants entered into further discussions with officers and statutory consultees to respond to the comments and objections raised. An amended scheme and supporting documentation was then submitted in January 2019. A full re-consultation has been undertaken.

The submission describes the applicant’s vision as being for the development of the site to provide high-quality student accommodation within a highly sustainable location. The site is primarily to serve as accommodation for students of the Hereford College of Arts and as such the scheme has been designed to achieve a high quality of internal light and space both internally and externally for the display of artwork. The college has subsequently expanded on this vision in a statement contained within a Covering letter submitted with the application.

The following statement has been provided by Hereford College of Arts regarding the design ethos for the development, along with the benefits the development will deliver for higher education in Hereford and the economic benefits for the wider City. The statement also expresses the College’s commitment to the showcasing of student artwork on site:

“The ambition for this project is that Station Approach becomes a beacon building for Hereford, speaking to both the city’s past and future. The site couldn‚Äôt be better for HCA – mid way between its teaching and learning campuses and the city centre, it will give residential students easy access to all the social and cultural resources of the city and help connect them with the wider community.

Hereford’s lack of purpose-built student housing puts off students who might otherwise move to the city for their higher education; it is hindering both the growth of HCA and the launch of NMiTE and a barrier to all the benefits a growth in student and graduate population would bring to the city’s economic and cultural future.

Throughout the design process we have consulted closely with HCA and NMiTE to ensure that student well-being is at the heart of the layout and management of the building. This engagement has included a design workshop with students from both institutions actively involved in developing the design – a process that will continue. As part of that, there are exciting proposals for a large and high quality communal area on the ground floor which will include smaller zones for group and independent study, personal reflection, performance spaces and a fitness gym, games and entertainment zones and with the flexibility to quickly adapt the space for degree shows and exhibitions.

We have also focused on ensuring the building remains economic and affordable with room rental at the bottom end of that charged nationally for quality purpose-built accommodation in other student cities.

Importantly the building has been designed with the display of creative artwork internally and externally as intrinsic to the overall plan. This includes the ground floor social, exhibition and performance space that will always be visible through the front glazing and able to be opened to the public for events.

There will be large external display zones at either end of the building while, subject to obtaining consent and ongoing public consultation, external projection mapping can be used to bring the front of the building alive with still or moving images to celebrate local and national occasions. Additionally, plinths for 3D sculpture will be included on the open terrace in front of the building along with street furniture, some commissioned from the HCA Artist Blacksmithing course. With these internal and external flexible exhibition spaces built into the core design, the approach is entirely different to the ‘add on a bit public art at the end’ of some developments.

We are excited about the way creative display areas of the building will be used to express some of the distinctive features of Herefordshire, past and present, as HCA is already doing in the ‘Showcase of Herefordshire’ currently being designed for the European Parliament in Brussels”.

In summary, the proposed development is key to Hereford being able to retain and further develop a competitive Higher Education offer. The enhancement of the Higher Education offer will, of course bring economic and social benefits to the wider City.‚ÄĚ