IT JUST can't come quick enough. That's the reaction from shopkeepers and residents to moves to redevelop Chandler's Ford's ageing Central Precinct.

Two years ago Eastleigh civic chiefs earmarked the site for major improvements in the borough's Local Plan.

Now the authority's powerful executive Cabinet has agreed to spend £15,000 on getting a scheme for residential development up and running.

But the scheme will still leave room for some shops to remain.

News that long-awaited plans were being kick-started was welcomed by Suzette Matthews who, with her husband Brian, owns The Precinct Gift Centre and Coffee Shop.

She said: "This precinct definitely needs redeveloping. If you go round to the different shops most will agree with that.

"They can't really do anything with it because it is so old.

"A lot of our customers come in and say it is so drab."

Hairdressing salon proprietor Julia Henderson agreed. She said: "I can't wait for it to come down. We would welcome anything that could take us out of this misery"

Manager of The French Baguette Connection Ltd, Chrissie Lickfold, said: "They have done the railway station and if they want people to use the surrounding area they have to make it look a bit better."

But she added that the council also needed to improve the waste collection service, otherwise there would be no point.

Homes are situated above the precinct shops and apartment owner Eric Perry was also enthusiastic about the redevelopment scheme.

He said: "The sooner it goes through the better. It would be better for the whole area."

The chairman of the borough council's Chandler's Ford and Hiltingbury Local Area Committee, Councillor Godfrey Olson, also welcomed the proposals to redevelop the Central Precinct, which was built about 45 years ago.

He said: "It has never been terribly successful as a shopping area since the major superstore that initially went into that development left.

"The building itself is not one of great beauty."

Cllr Olson said redevelopment would provide the opportunity for a substantial residential scheme with some retail development.

"I think we could get a most attractive development catering better for present day needs and there are a lot of people who are quite anxious to see it happen."

But he added: "We want people to feel this is going to be a scheme they can enter into and have ownership of rather than using the heavy hand."

A council spokesman told the Daily Echo: "The £15,000 approved will allow the council to develop, with major land owners on the site, detailed proposals for the future redevelopment."