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Saving The Working Boys Home *UPDATE*

Herefordshire Council

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#1 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

The OLM is due to open soon - an ugly building, which in my opinion will split the city in two, and most certainly have a detrimental effect on High Town.

It has been built with no thought for the environment in which it sits, and is regarded by many as a blot on the landscape.

 

We have some truly beautiful buildings in our city, and one of them is now at great risk of being demolished. I know many of you will not give two hoots about it, but I do! So much so, that I have challenged myself to write my very first thread!

The Working Boys Home was erected between 1878 and 1895. English Heritage has refused to recommend its listing on the questionable grounds that it is "not sufficiently intact or of sufficient architectural merit". It is within a designated Conservation Area, and is close to several other significant buildings with "Venn" connections. That's John Venn - surely one of this cities greatest ever citizens.

Many believe, myself included, that this building would lend itself to a sympathetic conversion for residential housing, in much the same way as the former General Hospital, and Eye Hospital.

Although I have made several phone calls, and spoken to a number of people, I have been unable to discover if Herefordshire Council has even invited offers from property developers.

 

Here is where it all gets a tad murky for my liking. Whether you care about this building or not, the following should ring alarm bells.

The notorious "land swap" deal between Herefordshire Council and the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority has been stitched up, for want of a better phrase, between Cllr Johnson, and a Cllr Podger - who is the chair of Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority.

From what I can find out, this has been without the local ward councillor - Mark Hubbard - either being present, or even consulted!

 

This is an extremely one sided deal.

HWFA get an enormous 1.6 acre site.

Herefordshire Council get a site half that size, plus the bill for demolishing the existing fire station! Then, yes you guessed it, it will become a surface level car park!

 

This is not a good deal by anybodys standards!!

 


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#2 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Campaigners against this, also point out that to site a huge new emergency services operation in Bath Street is crazy urban planning, since the carriageway at that point, is just one lane wide in each direction!

 

Two "Factoids" which are always conveniently dropped into arguments in favour of this "land swap" deal......

1.The Boys Home is in a poor state of repair.

( Well why HAS the council allowed one of its own properties to be neglected in this way?)

 

2.The 1954 fire station is "beyond repair."

(Again, how CAN a Fire Authority, governed by the most stringent of building regulations, have allowed one of its own properties to become so neglected?)

 

The cynical amongst us would say the answer to these questions are the same.

They both want shot of them!

 

Whether you want to save this beautiful building, preserve a part of our heritage, or not.....I am sure you will agree, that this somewhat shady arrangement needs to be looked at in a lot more detail, and not be a decision made behind closed doors.


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#3 twowheelsgood

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Posted 13 March 2014

Once again we have deals done behind closed doors, no consultation, no paperwork, no costs. 

 

Although the Council seem hell bent on pushing this through (presumably before the end of this financial year) they conveniently overlook, or disregard, the LAW (not for the first time it has to be said).

 

As the Bath St building sits in the Central Conservation Area, consent is required to demolish, and this will not normally be granted unless the application is accompanied by an application for planning permission for a proposal justifying its demolition. If granted, the two permissions are then legally tied and demolition cannot normally begin until evidence of a building contract has been submitted. In other words, the building cannot just be demolished and the site cleared in the short term. That said, the current council are well known for ignoring both their own policies and planning law, so we must be vigilant.
 
The Fire Station does not have the protection of the conservation area.
 
The arrangement had been that a new fire station was to built on the link road - perhaps this could be viewed as a tact admission that the link road isn't going to happen. That's still no excuse for what is being proposed however.

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#4 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 13 March 2014

It might have been beyond  economic repair but up until yesterday Council staff were using it for offices.  So many decisions affecting Herefordshire are now being made behind closed doors.  How many people really wanted the OLM.  I see in the Hereford Times today that the link road is going ahead with CPO's for loads of different properties - I thought the £27 million funding had been withdrawn.  The Council must be made to be more transparent and inform Joe public of their game plan.  How this is achieved I do not know.  When people like you and Bobby express an opinion you are classed as trouble makers and people who need to get a life - duh.  The shame of all of this is that so many of the people that make these decisions are not really local to Hereford and when they have reeked all this havoc will probably spend no quality time in Hereford.  


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#5 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

You are correct, Two Wheels - it is absolutely no excuse!

 

I am really hoping that Mark Hubbard as ward councillor, will comment on this. As I said, this seems to have been cobbled together without his knowledge, and I would be extremely interested to hear his views!

 

I am hoping that even if folk aren't bothered about saving this glorious building, the underhanded dealings and decision making, will strike a chord with them.

 

I honestly feel that if we don't collectively make a stand over this, then no building will be deemed worthy of saving for future generations. This building could have new life breathed into it, and be a useful and much needed answer to at least part of our housing shortage.

 

I want to know WHY this hasn't been explored.


Edited by dippyhippy, 13 March 2014 .

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#6 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Denise, we have been shouting for transparency for ages.......they keep promising us that it will happen, it never does! I don't think they understand the meaning of the word....or "accountability" either!


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#7 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 13 March 2014

Dippy Hippy yes I know but me being me I sometimes think that one day somebody just somebody will have a conscience about all this and spill the beans  you never know - it only takes one person!

 

I actually thought that HCS were in discussions with Herefordshire Council about the building.  Mark Hubbard I believe is a member of HCS perhaps he has been excluded from discussions for that reason. 


Edited by Denise Lloyd, 13 March 2014 .

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#8 bobby47

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Posted 13 March 2014

Our Denise has touched upon the inevitable outcome of all this illicit activity which, under the guise of democratic management of public funds, is dressed up as being entirely legitimate and lawful. Of course, despite what they tell you and what you really hope to believe, it's not. When you cut through the entire piece, its a bunch of people using cunning and guile to gain an advantage. That's really all it is.
How do you get away with it? That's the easy thing. All you have to do is get into a position where you can exploit something. Then, once that's done, you convince others around you that all is well and the lie, the deception, is perpetuated until, very soon, it becomes a cultural practice. A way of doing things. It becomes the normal way of conducting business and the further 'they' slide down the hole, the more they need to know that what they are doing is good, honest and transparent for all to see. Of course, 'they' recognise that this transparency is a problem area and so, just like Hereford Futures and a raft of other things, they hide the process from you, thus making it impossible to uncover the lie. To justify this? Well that's easy to. Commercial confidentiality. That's the cloak they can hide behind.
Mind they've got one single problem. Up and down this Country Local Authorities have, like Members of Parliament been playing the same game and not one of them, including Hereford Council, can legislate for the 'one' who finally, through fear, stress, guilt and anger falls from grace and favour and 'spills the beans'. It'll happen. It most definitely will happen. Someone, somewhere will step forward, report corrupt practice, an investigative agent becomes involved and off we go.
Someone on high gets charged with a criminal offence, its publicised, others in different areas wobble and the whole pack of cards comes falling down.
This will happen. It's all a matter of time. Time sorts most things out and our hope must be it arrives sooner rather than later. Remember, if something doesn't look right, it doesn't feel right and it doesn't sound right, its inevitably wrong. And if its wrong and it involves money, arrangements behind a cloak of secrecy, then its more than likely to be criminal.
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#9 magicroundabout

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Posted 13 March 2014

Deplorable underhand county council cabinet behaviour once again!

 

When or where will this ever end?


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#10 Ubique

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Posted 13 March 2014

Dippy , a very good Post .
Not many Cllrs , if any , want to put their heads above the parapet and give their views on what is going on. They appear to post very quickly when they want to post good news , bit slower when they appear to know that the news is bad.
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#11 Aylestone Voice

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Posted 13 March 2014

Anyone who really cares should e-mail Cllr Bramer who is the Cabinet decision maker. I did some weeks ago.
[email protected]
His reply to a question on the point (written by an officer) at Council last week to the effect that we don't need it for housing as enough sites are identified elsewhere was just fatuous.
I don't personally have much regard for whether the building is kept or not. I just think it is a crazy proposal. If the Council no longer need the site then the best option is to sell it for housing - this will bring the greatest financial benefit for the taxpayer. A new fire station if one is needed can go in many places
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#12 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Afternoon Aylestone Voice!

 

The trouble is, its Cllr Johnson, the council leader, who seems to be the one in the driving seat!

This makes no sense on any level.

 

Our council should WANT to protect these buildings!

Our council should WANT the best for the good folk of this city!

Our council should WANT value for money!

 

Even if this was not a building worthy of saving, the land it sits on is valuable.....why swap it for a piece half the size, around the corner??

I still haven't been able to ascertain the financial arrangements behind that other valuable building - Blackfriars!

They seem to think we are too stupid to realise what's going on, or too apathetic to challenge it.

Well....I have had enough!

Lets challenge them!


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#13 Grid Knocker

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Posted 13 March 2014

Well put Dippy!

 

This is a veritable can of worms and no mistake.  Bravo for bringing your trusty can opener along to the Hereford Voice camp fire.

 

The former Boys Home building, as you rightly point out, is every bit as worth transforming into an alternative use as the old General and Eye Hospitals were.  Furthermore, since the boys home has been owned and used by Herefordshire Council for almost 80 years, how on earth did they allow it to get into such a neglected state?  Stuck in an inevitable traffic jam in Bath Street, even a cursory inspection tells you its in urgent need of TLC.  Local residents are reporting that staff records and furniture were moved out of the buildings earlier this week.  So is the secret Johnson / Podger stitch-up a 'done deal'?

 

And what part has the venerable (and hardly over-worked) chief planning officer Andrew Ashcroft played in all these negotiations?  Did anyone (eg: Leader Johnson) consult him and ask him if, in urban planning terms, the east end of Bath Street would be a suitable location for a state-of-the-art emergency services base?  And who on earth is going to use a council-owned surface-level car park when shoppers can invariably find a space in the more centrally-located Gaol Street car park?

 

I smell stinking fish!


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#14 megilleland

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Posted 13 March 2014

HEREFORD & WORCESTER 
Fire and Rescue Authority
 
Policy and Resources Committee 
Tuesday 19 November 2013 
10.30 am 
 
Worcester Guildhall 
High Street 
Worcester 
WR1 2EY 
 
Councillors 
Mr K Taylor (Chairman), Mr R Adams (Vice-Chairman), 
 
Mr A Amos, Mr P Gretton, Mr A Hardman, Mrs R Jenkins, Brigadier P Jones CBE, 
Mrs M Lloyd-Hayes, Mrs F Oborski, Mr D Prodger MBE, Mr D Taylor, Mr P Tuthill 
and Mr R Udall.
 
Hereford Fire Station 
10. Officers of the Service have been in extensive discussion with Herefordshire 
Futures, an organisation leading on the regeneration of Hereford City by 
providing expertise and liaising with key partners. Three sites have been 
examined in detail as part of a major link-road development scheme, but 
unfortunately none of these satisfy minimum requirements for a fire station 
location. After examining a range of other potential options, a new site appears 
to offer an excellent opportunity for replacement and this is detailed in a 
separate paper being presented to the Policy and Resources Committee. 
 
Report of the Head of Asset Management 
 
7. Asset Management Strategy: Hereford Fire Station 
 
Purpose of report 
1. To inform Members of an option to replace Hereford Fire Station and gain 
approval to proceed up to planning approval stage with the project, at which 
time final approval to complete the project will be requested from the Policy and 
Resources Committee. 
 
(read pages 15 to 18 & Appendix 1
 
 

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#15 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Yup!

Me too Grid Knocker!

There is more to uncover, of that I feel sure.......


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#16 Glenda Vaughan-Powell

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Posted 13 March 2014

As one councillor who tries to answer your many questions, I personally feel as the council has agreed to a Herefordshire College why don't they use this building, it has many offices large enough to be classrooms and more ground that is first thought which extends outwards in the back, plenty of cars space what more could the college ask for.


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#17 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Grrrr!!

Bloody Hereford Futures.....again!!

 

Thanks for posting this Megilleland......I am sooo cross about all of this, I appear to have "gone bold" again!!


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#18 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Do you mean the University idea, Glenda??

I have reservations about transferring valuable assets over, without some sort of cast iron clad agreement, that the buildings could not just be sold off, should this go pear shaped.....


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#19 megilleland

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Posted 13 March 2014

From Hereford Civic Society:

 
Working Boys' Home, Bath Street, Hereford
 
See our Winter 2014 News Magazine for further information.
 
The Woolhope Club has sent an application to English Heritage to get the former Working Boys' Home in Bath Street listed.  The Woolhope Club's application can be viewed here.
 
Attached File  Woolhope Listed Boys Home appn.doc   1.14MB   942 downloads
 
Update 18.2.14
 
HCS is disappointed that English Heritage has decided not to list the former boys’ home being the site earmarked as Hereford’s future fire station. An EH assessment out on 12th February 2014 says the former working boys home in Bath Street – now the county offices – is not of “sufficient architectural quality” to merit listed status.In a letter confirming its decision, EH outlined the reasons for rejection as follows:
 
* Architectural quality: although the building is designed by well-known local architects and exhibits architectural quality, the original building has been altered and significantly extended, and despite attempts to unify the buildings through the use of matching materials and details, the 1902 additions are Palladian rather than Domestic Revival in style and contrast with the earlier buildings, and there are some insensitive mid-C20 additions to the rear; 
 
* Planning interest: the building has evolved over time and it lacks cohesion;
 
* Alteration: whilst it has claims to historic interest as a former working boys’ home, evidence of how the building functioned has been eroded by later alteration, particularly to the interior where the original plan form and circulation are no longer legible and the function of the different elements has been lost.
 
* Conclusion: the local architectural and historic interest of the former Working Boys’ Home in Hereford is recognised by its inclusion in a conservation area. However, the building is not sufficiently intact or of sufficient architectural quality to merit statutory designation."
 
Listing would have helped the Society’s aim to preserve some, at least, of the distinctive buildings.
 
The Council wishes to sell the site to Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service for a new fire station. The Fire Service say their present premises are no longer fit for purpose. HCS, and many others, think the new Link Road would be an ideal site.
 
No support for a new fire station was the conclusion of an innovative style meeting – Café Pol – held by the Society on Monday 3rd February. Facilitated by Perry Walker, who devised the format for Café Pol, the intention was to see if the participants could reach a consensus about the future of the old Working Boys’ Home and School in Bath Street.
 
The meeting heard about several alternative uses from complete demolition of the rather special buildings, with historical connections back to John Venn, to conversion to an Innovation Centre. A proposal to retain the front parts of some of the buildings, with flats to the rear, appeared to be the front runner. Next was the use of the site as a campus for a potential university for Herefordshire. The visionary appeal of this proposal was offset by doubts about whether the learning approach really would be distinctive. The thought of a large facility for fire engines, in such an important position overlooking the City Centre, which would also include the demolition of the existing 1960’s fire station to make way for a car park, was unacceptable to the members and interested parties who attended.
 
This conclusion, believed to be the first consultation on this proposal, is being sent to Harry Bramer, the Cabinet member for asset sales. Café Pol looks set to become a useful forum to discuss controversial proposals where consensus is required following informed input from experts.

 

Another group of citizens not listened to by the council. Carry on regardless.

Edited by megilleland, 13 March 2014 .

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#20 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Absolutely Megilleland.

 

If the frontage of this building - and hence the character and history - can be preserved, it really should be done.

I note that from the information you have provided, the word "sell" is used. "Swap" is the term they are looking for!


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#21 Aylestone Voice

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Posted 13 March 2014

Blackfriars - my understanding of the law is that as the Council had it on a list of assets it no longer requires then the Robert Owen School can require, as they have, the Council to give it them for nothing. Not a penny. If I am correct then this is down to the government and their push for free schools.
Bath Street - all we can do is bombard the Council with our views. To my mind it would be best to argue on the value(cash) lost if it is given to the Fire Service and we get a pig in a poke around the corner. Of course if the transfer does take place then a planning application for a new fire station will have to be considered. It would have to be a top notch design to meet my aspirations for a site in a Conservation Area
Another point - why do we need a new fire station - I hardly ever see them out an about. Is this just another ego massaging exercise by those who get paid lots?
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#22 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Thanks for posting this Aylestone Voice, with regard to Blackfriars, you are confirming what I feared. This is an extremely valuable resource, I cannot fathom HOW this can be allowed to happen.

Your point about top notch design....??

Have you seen the OLM??? This is what our council thinks passes as top notch design....it's beyond, it truly is.

 

A while ago, there was talk of the emergency services being merged into one purpose built building, possibly up by B and Q. This obviously hasn't come to fruition, and since then, both the police and ambulance station have been the subject of a fairly substantial refit.

 

We are supposedly all about "saving money" - how can swapping land, and giving away buildings to be used rent free, make ANY financial sense??

 

I am going to keep on and on until I get some answers!!


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#23 twowheelsgood

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Posted 13 March 2014

 

HEREFORD & WORCESTER 
Fire and Rescue Authority
Policy and Resources Committee 
Tuesday 19 November 2013 
10.30 am 
 
Hereford Fire Station 
10. Officers of the Service have been in extensive discussion with Herefordshire 
Futures, an organisation leading on the regeneration of Hereford City by 
providing expertise and liaising with key partners. Three sites have been 
examined in detail as part of a major link-road development scheme, but 
unfortunately none of these satisfy minimum requirements for a fire station 
location. After examining a range of other potential options, a new site appears 
to offer an excellent opportunity for replacement and this is detailed in a 
separate paper being presented to the Policy and Resources Committee. 
 
Report of the Head of Asset Management 
 
7. Asset Management Strategy: Hereford Fire Station 
 
Purpose of report 
1. To inform Members of an option to replace Hereford Fire Station and gain 
approval to proceed up to planning approval stage with the project, at which 
time final approval to complete the project will be requested from the Policy and 
Resources Committee. 
 
(read pages 15 to 18 & Appendix 1

 

Apperas to be a done deal, subject to planning permission - from the report (4 months ago):

 

"Conclusion/Summary
13. The proposed site at Herefordshire Council’s Bath Street offices represents the best opportunity to deliver a much needed new Fire Station in Hereford. In order to progress the scheme further and provide an accurate cost estimate, initial design work is being undertaken which may prove unproductive if the scheme does not ultimately proceed. However, a further paper including a detailed cost feasibility will be brought to the Policy and Resources Committee for final approval to purchase the site and to gain approval to proceed to completion."

Edited by twowheelsgood, 13 March 2014 .

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#24 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

I am still seeing the word "purchase".....when are they going to come clean, and use the word "swap"???


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#25 twowheelsgood

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Posted 13 March 2014

In fairness, they do refer to a valuation from the District Valuer, but I imagine this is to protect themselves.

 

The silence from ward Councillor Hubbard is deafening on this, as indeed from IOC itself, formerly 'Its Our City' of course. 


Edited by twowheelsgood, 13 March 2014 .

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#26 Glenda Vaughan-Powell

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Posted 13 March 2014

Dippy- yes I did mean University, when I was younger a College was a University. This is one of many iconic buildings in Hereford and I would rather see it turned into a University than pulled down, because if the council allows the fire station to move there thats what will happen! and the building would be lost forever! Call me old fashioned but I like the old building in Hereford its a part of the city character. Like many of youI have had enough with  this  Administration of Herefordshire Council and the 8 people that make up the cabinet DO NOT live in Hereford so what they do don't bother them, I wonder what Cllr Braemer would say if we wanted to sell some of his assets (last count six castles) the shoe would be on the other foot then!!!


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#27 megilleland

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Posted 13 March 2014

 
 

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#28 ragwert

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Posted 13 March 2014

Dippy- yes I did mean University, when I was younger a College was a University. This is one of many iconic buildings in Hereford and I would rather see it turned into a University than pulled down, because if the council allows the fire station to move there thats what will happen! and the building would be lost forever! Call me old fashioned but I like the old building in Hereford its a part of the city character. Like many of youI have had enough with  this  Administration of Herefordshire Council and the 8 people that make up the cabinet DO NOT live in Hereford so what they do don't bother them, I wonder what Cllr Braemer would say if we wanted to sell some of his assets (last count six castles) the shoe would be on the other foot then!!!

I must say this is a lovely building.....On the outside but the ornate stonework has never been touched and has imo been left to rot to the extent that it needs a fortune spent on it to preserve it.
On the inside however its a bloody miss match of many many alterations and is plain butt ugly in most parts.
On the whole this building should be saved and put to better use
 


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#29 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Evening Glenda!
I would agree that ANY plan to save this building, really needs to be considered....and I could not agree with you more in regard to the cabinet. They will be gone next May - I just don't want the demolition of this building to be one of their final "gifts" to us!

I am prepared to wait patiently for a response from Mark Hubbard, I am hoping it will be one worth waiting for!
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#30 dippyhippy

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Posted 13 March 2014

Thanks for your support Ragwert, indeed thanks to ALL of you!
I only posted this at midday, and everybody has been so supportive of trying to save this building.....let's hope we can uncover what's been happening behind that closed door!!
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Proud to be a tolerant and compassionate tree hugger. Blessed with common decency and humanity. Willing to speak up for those in need. Prepared to challenge the bigoted views which seem to be aired so freely.... 

 

Sending peace and love, to my fellow lefties.






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