A LOCAL authority has confirmed work to temporarily close the main road through the heart of Romsey – in a bid to protect people from coronavirus - will start from today.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) announced The Hundred will close to traffic "the week commencing Monday, June 29" in a bid to help people socially distance by providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

The council revealed The Hundred will be shut to through traffic “except for access” between the Market Place and the vehicle access on the side of Superdrug.

From this access to the junction with Latimer Street, the road will be fully closed to all vehicles.

These new measures will be in place during all times of the day.

However, a time when The Hundred will shut has not yet been confirmed.

The scheme has been agreed with Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) and was put forward in an effort to support "local businesses" by keeping access to parking behind Superdrug, according to HCC.

They added this will include the few parking bays behind "Barclays Bank in Corn Market".

Some of the temporary one-way signs in Stirling Walk will also be removed, "which have not proved to be effective", HCC confirmed.

Now community leaders have shared their thoughts on The Hundred being closed after they pleaded with HCC to close the road to drivers for when shops reopened on Monday, June 15.

Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: "I am grateful to the county council for listening to those of us who are on the ground in Romsey and I am confident that the closure will give many more people the confidence to return to the town to shop.

"I know from talking to people they are very concerned about the narrow bit of The Hundred."

Romsey Advertiser: Mark Edgerley Mark Edgerley

Mr Edgerley said signs that will be placed on all roads into Romsey encouraging drivers to use car parks and walk into the centre could be erected "in the early evening" this week when there is less traffic around.

The town centre manager also stressed he requested the temporary signs to be removed in Stirling Walk, due to the one-way system causing "confusion for shoppers".

He added: "Closing The Hundred was discussed at length with the county council and we will monitor it very closely, especially in the early days.

"If it needs some modification it will be done."

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Town on HCC, said: "I am very pleased to see the county council has managed to find a way to make shopping in The Hundred safer by allowing residents to social distance when they are queuing outside of the shops, or walking down The Hundred.

"There will be a minor inconvenience for residents who cannot access The Hundred by their car, but I am convinced that inconvenience is far outweighed by the benefits of the closure."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Mark CooperCllr Mark Cooper

Deputy leader of TVBC, cllr Nick Adams-King, said: "It is great news The Hundred is being closed and I am really glad the county have listened to their common sense. 

"It is a temporary measure, but one that is vital to making sure people feel safe coming into the town centre."

Deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive member for economy, transport and environment, cllr Rob Humby, said: “The idea behind these “pop up” schemes we’re putting in place is to support social distancing for those walking and cycling, giving people the confidence to return to the high street.

"The schemes are experimental, and of necessity, we’ve had to put them in quickly; if they’re not effective for whatever reason, they will come out just as quickly and we will then concentrate on other measures that are proving to be more effective.

"In Romsey, The Hundred will be closed to vehicles to give more space for those walking, and we will be making a small change to the town centre by removing some of the one-way signs in Stirling Walk, which have not proved to be effective. "The scheme will now focus on simply creating more space to allow people to spread out.”

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Rob Humby Cllr Rob Humby

As previously reported in the Romsey Advertiser, Mark Edgerley 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.”

For more information about similar schemes across Hampshire visit: https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/hantscovidtravel.

Hampshire Covid Travel FAQs can also be found via the web pages: https://documents.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/Covid-FAQs.pdf.