ROMSEY and surrounding villages will benefit from a £160million package aimed at improving Hampshire's road and transport network.

County highway chiefs are behind the cash injection and Romsey town centre is pencilled in for work to make it more pedestrian-friendly in the Bell Street, Market Place and Church Street areas.

And the new 800-home Abbotswood village is earmarked for better transport links with the town.

Traffic-calming measures are also proposed in the Woodley area at Short Hill, Braishfield Road, School Road and Woodley Lane.

Pedestrians and cyclists will benefit too from planned extension work on cycle routes along Romsey's Canal Walk, and better links for the two-wheelers accessing Route 24 of the National Byway in the North Baddesley area.

This includes an off-road cycleway between Firgrove Road to Castle Lane and once it is completed will provide a continuous route from Romsey to Chandler's Ford.

Further work at North Baddesley includes upgrading the traffic lights on the A27 at the junction of Botley Road with Nutburn Road and Rownhams Road (Baddesley Crossroads).

It's planned to remove the traffic island in Nutburn Road to make lanes wider at the junction.

County officials are also looking at improvements along Halterworth Lane between Crampmoor and Whitenap but it's still at an early stage and details have not been released.

All the proposed work is planned over the next three years and has to be approved by Hampshire's full council on February 21 but the authority's cabinet spokesman for environment and transport Mel Kendal has already given the project the green light and is recommending his colleagues do the same.

Mr Kendal said: “It is important to point out that, subject to agreement by HCC, this programme of investment would be additional to any government funding for specific transport schemes that the council might win in 2013-14. With plans for Government to devolve further transport funding to Local Transport Boards from 2014-15 onwards, we hope to expand our investment programme further over the next few years.”

Welcoming the planned upgrade of the traffic lights at North Baddesley Crossroads, the area's county councillor Alan Dowden said he'd campaigned for the improvements for a long time.

“Removing the traffic island will make it much easier for drivers turning right out of Nutburn Road.

"There are often huge queues waiting to get out onto Botley Road at peak times and people have to sit in their cars for a long time, sometimes the lights change two or three times, before they can get out of Nutburn Road.

"I've been pushing for something to be done to help improve the flow of traffic for some time,” said Mr Dowden.

Pointing out that some of cash has come from developer contributions and the Government, Romsey's borough and county member Mark Cooper said he'd been involved in talks with other borough councillors in the town to decide how and where the money is spent.

“I am very conscious of the need to maintain the town centre's environmental quality and its economic viability and vitality against threats from internet retailing and out-of-town retail applications which is why I want to focus on Church Street, Bell Street and the Market Place,” said Mr Cooper.