A MAJOR programme of improvements costing £553,000 has been given the go-ahead in a bid to enhance Andover’s Upper High Street and to encourage more shoppers and cyclists to use the area.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Hampshire’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, has approved the upgrades for Chantry Street, High Street and Newbury Street.

Funding for the scheme – which was the subject of a one-day public exhibition – will come from developer contributions and the Hampshire Sustainable Travel Towns Local Sustainable Travel Fund.

The part of the town affected falls inside a conservation area that includes buildings of medieval origin, and the county council considers it an area of high architectural importance.

Under the proposals, part of the carriageway will be narrowed and pavements widened, a contra-flow cycle facility is being provided, and pedestrian crossing points improved with some ‘raised tables’ incorporated to slow traffic speeds and highlight the presence of pedestrians.

The cycle changes are designed to provide an eastwest connection for cyclists on the northern side of the town.

Sections of the carriageway are to be resurfaced and road signs rationalised.

County councillor for the area Tim Rolt has expressed some reservations about the plans – though he is a little happier following some adjustments.

He said: “I was really concerned about the whole High Street and the need to clean it all up but this money can only be spent on this.

“They have, however, agreed to look at the drains in the High Street which is affected by flash floods. You can’t have all new things at top of the street and the problems left down below.”

The council says that additional funding has now been secured to undertake a drainage investigation on both sides of the High Street in response to Cllr Rolt’s concerns.

This will help to ensure that the scheme doesn’t have a negative impact on the rest of the High Street.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “We are planning to make improvements for people using Chantry Street, High Street and Newbury Street to address current issues of narrow pavements, lack of crossing points for pedestrians, and the lack of a convenient east to west route for cyclists at the northern edge of Andover town centre.

"As the number of pedestrians and cyclists using this important and historical shopping area is likely to increase this work is necessary and in order to accommodate this. Work should start in February 2015 to avoid any disruption during the busy Christmas shopping period.

"The improvements will involve narrowing the carriageway through some sections to encourage slower vehicle speeds, increasing the width of the footway, improving the existing pedestrian crossing points, and installing new crossing points.

"Also sections of the carriageway will be resurfaced to ensure a consistent appearance and to provide longer term carriageway strength and life.”