EFFORTS to get a long awaited Hampshire road project underway have been given a major boost thanks to a pledge in the budget.

Chancellor George Osborne has launched a new £475million pot of money from which the south east can bid for on local road projects, including the Chickenhall Link Road in Eastleigh.

If given the go ahead the scheme would open up previously inaccessible brownfield land for employment, creating jobs, while diverting traffic away from the town centre and reducing pollution.

Eastleigh MP Mims Davies, who said she had been lobbying on the issue with senior Government figures, insisted it was "fantastic news" for Eastleigh.

The link road would run north of junction 5 of the M27 from the A335 Southampton Road to Chickenhall Lane at an estimated cost of £120m.

Those who have pushed the scheme say it would divert HGVs onto the motorway without having to go through the town centre.

It would also open up inaccessible areas for development.

But it has been talked about for the last 30 years.

The budget says a Local Majors Fund would be set up "so that local areas in the south east can bid for funding for large local transport schemes including the Chickenhall Link Road".

Mr Osborne at the height of last year's election campaign pledged to start £2.4 billion of transport improvements in the south within 100 days of a Conservative election victory.

This included beginning work on the link road.

After being elected last May as Eastleigh’s next MP, Ms Davies had said she would work to ensure the pledged road improvement went ahead.

But she has faced criticism, particularly from ousted Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton and Eastleigh Borough Council's Liberal Democrat leader Keith House, over the apparent lack of progress.

Last night Ms Davies said: "I’m thrilled the Chancellor has made this significant sum for key infrastructure available.

"I’m thrilled that the people of Eastleigh will get the vital infrastructure they have waited far too long for.

"This is a game changer for the area. Better infrastructure means better quality of life, better opportunities and more prosperity."

Ms Davies said she would now be working to ensure when it crossed the Chancellor's desk it would get approved.

She said she would work with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the county and borough councils, and Southampton Airport to get the right plans finalised and work started as soon as possible.

"Obtaining investment for the link road and the Botley Bypass were my two pledges to the people of Eastleigh during the election, so I’m delighted that we are now in a position where they can start to become a reality."

Borough council cabinet member for transport Cllr David Airey said in principle the council had always supported the scheme and it was good news if the bid came off.

But he said he would have to see the detail of how this worked out.

He said though there had been issues regarding ownership of some of the land involved, the main stumbling block had always been the money.

He said it would open up an area north of Southampton Airport that is currently largely disused parts of the old railway works.

He said that land could be used for employment, creating "dozens" of jobs.

A Solent LEP spokesman said: "We are looking forward to meeting with colleagues to identify opportunities under the Local Majors Fund which will catalyse growth in the Solent and further our ambitions to maximise development opportunities at Southampton Airport."

County council transport chief Sean Woodward could not be contacted for comment.