A few weeks ago HGN were delighted to be invited by a representative of the Stronger Hereford Board (SHB) to submit bids to the Stronger Towns Fund, which is offering up to £25m to secure economic growth in Hereford city.

With just short time before the submission deadline we leapt into action and were delighted by the responses from our membership, especially considering the tight timescales that we were working with.

We submitted five separate, but linked, bids supporting our vision for “Herefordshire adapting, collaborating and thriving…. addressing challenges: climate & ecological crisis & Covid

An overview of the submission can be found here

The bids, which totalled £12.2m, were for:

  • Electric town centre buses: An electric bus service connecting transport hubs to retail centres (including dispersed retail centres), tourist attractions and health facilities. To be embedded in a wider campaign to encourage sustainable travel to and within the city
  • Full Circle b) 15 minute suburbs:  derived from the Paris Mayor’s concept of local centres meeting residents’ basic needs within walking or bike-ride, starting to establish a network of ‘15 Minute Suburban Hubs’ across the city
  • Future heritage a): High Town solar atrium: A translucent ‘Solar Atrium’ covers all High Town, using a gridwork of standard and transparent PV panels supported by an ‘open woodland’ of oak uprights and by surrounding buildings which creates an attractive, sheltered, flexible, civic hubspace at the social/geophysical centre of the city/county
  • Future heritage: High Town guild hall for the 21st Century: A resource and energy-efficient oak timber frame building of contemporary, iconic design, referencing but not replicating the Tudor Guildhall. Offering space for informal activities, formal cultural / civic / commercial and tourist activities and café/ exhibitions/ information spaces

The bids are currently being reviewed by the Stronger Hereford Board (SHB) and we will let you know if any of ours make it to the shortlist.

Many, many thanks to Les Lumsdon & Will Frecknall (Rail and Bus for Herefordshire), Andrew Wood (Herefordshire Community Environmental Group), Nick Sherwood, Nigel Higgs, Richard Priestley, Peter Gunn- Wilkinson, Andrew Wood, Jackie Jones, Kate Gathercole and David Gillam for contributing such a huge amount of inspiration and hard work to get these proposals together.

Wendy Ogden, HGN Administrator

ADDENDUM FROM NICK SHERWOOD

I’d like to contextualise what we’ve started:

Are you aware of the Civic Imagination Office initiative in Bologna? (links here and here) or Rob Hopkins’s ideas about ‘failing imagination’ and ‘Imagining the Future We Want’ (here) from which….

” The only way we’re going to achieve a zero carbon world is by creating such deep longing in people that it becomes inevitable that we create it, in a way. When Neil Armstrong went to the moon, it wasn’t his idea, it wasn’t a JFK idea. We had culturally been creating that longing to go there. Frank Sinatra sang us to the moon. Tintin went to the moon. Everybody went to the moon, to the point where there was such a profound collective longing to go to the moon that it kind of became inevitable. And we did it within eight years from scratch. We got someone onto the moon, you know, and it seems like we often focus on the ‘how do we build the rocket’ bit and not on the ‘how do we create the longing’ bit, which is about imagination.”

Rob Hopkins

Whether or not Stronger Hereford Board supports our present bid, we need to be pushing for a whole new approach to civic regeneration along the lines above, which deploys an imaginative, creative ‘what if’ approach to secure our future in the light of the climate and ecological emergencies that we are facing.