IMPROVED transport links around Basingstoke will now be part of development policy.

Councillors agreed the new transport strategy proposals put forward to the full council on July 18.

The strategy follows the gathering of an extensive evidence base and consultation exercise where residents, businesses and visitors to the town were asked for their views.

Cabinet member for planning, infrastructure and the natural environment at the borough council, Cllr Mark Ruffell, said: “In partnership with Hampshire County Council, the Transport Strategy is a key document to support the implementation of the adopted Local Plan as well as looking beyond.

“It now gives us a framework for more detailed studies and subsequent action, as well as helping us to deliver some of our most important sites such as the successful regeneration of Basing View, much needed homes and infrastructure at Manydown, a vibrant and accessible town centre and improved facilities at the Leisure Park.”

However, opposition councillors raised concerns as to where the funds for the scheme would come from.

Leader of the Basingstoke Labour Group, Cllr Paul Harvey, said: “We have to find a way of funding it before we act on it.”

He added: “We need to make sure that it is our communities which are benefitting from this scheme.” Produced in partnership with the highways authority Hampshire County Council and backed by Enterprise M3 local enterprise partnership, the strategy sets out a framework for more detailed actions and studies to take place.

It responds to the expected future increases in population and jobs taking into account forecast rises in traffic levels locally and that outside of the borough.

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “The strategy comes at a time when we are looking at how we can help make Hampshire sustainable and secure a good quality of life for future generations. We are working with Basingstoke and Deane to ensure the local transport infrastructure meets the needs of those who currently live and work in and around the town. The role of public transport in the form of a Mass Rapid Transit network of buses is a key part of the strategy and the development of the associated infrastructure is the way in which we can make a real difference to people’s ability to travel where and when they want to.”