Economy & place
Herefordshire is a predominantly rural county with around 95% of the county classified as such. It has the the third lowest population density of any English county (behind Northumberland and Cumbria), with large areas of picturesque and relatively unspoilt countryside. In addition to Hereford city, there are five historic market towns (Bromyard, Kington, Ledbury, Leominster and Ross-on-Wye), each with a distinctive character. The county boasts numerous historic buildings, including Hereford’s impressive medieval cathedral.
The largest business sectors in Herefordshire are currently manufacturing, defence and security, food and drink production, agriculture and tourism. Well-known businesses include including Bulmers (Heineken), British Land, Cargill, Weston’s Cider, Bloor Homes and Tyrrells Crisps. 15% of the population are self-employed.
A number of economic development schemes are underway in the county, including investment in enterprise zones in Hereford and Ross and redevelopment of the Shell Store in Rotherwas into a business incubation centre. Herefordshire Council’s local plan aims to deliver 16,500 new homes by 2031.
The transport network is mainly comprised of rural ‘C’ or unclassified roads leading off single carriageway ‘A’ roads, but the county is connected to the motorway network linking South Wales to the West Midlands and has direct and regular rail links to London, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff.
Herefordshire's Local Plan sets out the long term vision, strategy and objectives which will govern future development and land use in the county. You can look at the evidence base for the Local Plan using the link in the 'Useful links' box.
Facts and figures about local areas
You can view statistical information about local areas in Herefordshire, including ward and market town profiles, using our interactive map.
90% of enterprises in Herefordshire employ nine people or less - similar to the proportion nationally. We have relatively low levels of unemployment, but low productivity and lower average earnings are persistent challenges and a factor in poor social mobility and young people leaving the county to seek career opportunities elsewhere.
Herefordshire is relatively sparsely populated and much of the county comprises farmland. The county contains the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and part of the Malvern Hills AONB. Both the natural and built environments are important assets for residents and businesses (particularly tourism). Opportunities to access to green space are relatively abundant.
Herefordshire had a higher proportion of households who own their home outright and a lower proportion who own their home with a mortgage, compared with England and Wales. It is the worst area in the West Midlands for housing affordability and house prices at the lower end of the housing market are over eight times higher than lower quartile annual earnings.
Herefordshire has the second highest road length per head of population in England and with only four railway stations, people are particularly dependent on road transport, with the majority of residents who travel to get to work doing so by car. Rates of cycling are relatively high, but in remote rural areas the frequency of bus services can be an issue for those reliant upon public transport and parts of rural Herefordshire are among those at the highest risk of transport poverty nationally.