PLANS to temporarily close the main road through the heart of Romsey – in a bid to protect people from coronavirus – could happen “early next week”.

This comes after Hampshire County Council (HCC) announced The Hundred had been added to its list of projects to help people socially distance by providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Now, Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, has revealed the road closure could happen “early next week”, meaning The Hundred would shut to motorists from “just past Superdrug to Latimer Street”.

Mr Edgerley said: “Vehicles will be prohibited from entering the part of the Market Place where Caffè Nero and The White Horse Hotel are located.”

However, he added that drivers should still be able to “access private parking behind Superdrug, drop and pick up customers from the White Horse Hotel, set up markets” and use the space for “limited other reasons”.

He said: “We expect signage will be available to introduce the scheme early next week, as there are delays in sign production due to demand.

“Advance signage will be placed on all roads into Romsey encouraging drivers to use car parks and walk into the centre.”

As well as this, the town centre manager said access to Bell Street, Church Street and Abbey Water – via the United Reformed Church “remains as it is now”, but stressed “further updates will follow.”

Mr Edgerley said: “I am very pleased Hampshire County Council have agreed to this closure, which is very sensible.

“Hopefully it will increase the confidence for local residents who wanted to come into the narrow bit of The Hundred to shop.”

This was a feeling expressed by other town leaders.

Deputy leader for Test Valley Borough Council, cllr Nick Adams-King, added: “This is down to the pressure members of the public have put on Hampshire County Council to do this as well as the great work done by Mark Edgerley.

“Test Valley Brough Council have greased the wheels for this by offering to pay half of the costs, which could come to £10,000, because the priority for us all is to make sure The Hundred is safe for people to use.

Deputy leader of HCC and executive member for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Rob Humby, said: “I would like to reassure Romsey residents that there is no need for concern about The Hundred ‘not being closed off to vehicles’ as some people may have been led to believe from a recent news report.

“On the contrary, this is in our programme for the very near future as part of our work to support the economic recovery of Hampshire by making more space for people walking and cycling as the high street reopens.”