WHITEHILL Town Council has backed plans to provide new and improved cycleway facilities in the town.

Representatives from Hampshire County Council and East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) were on hand to answer questions and outline plans for cycling provision at a recent town council meeting.

Peter Fox, the county council’s senior highways engineer, explained that a collection of new routes, set to be provided early next year, were just the start of a wider strategy to improve life for cyclists.

This “initial phase” will also be linked up with the Shipwrights Way – a new 50-mile route that runs from Alice Holt to the south coast.

The facilities that the county council, in partnership with EHDC, is hoping to provide will be a mix of new three-metre wide off-road cycleway links developed from existing footways together with several on-road marked routes. Signing of these cycleways will be provided as part of the scheme.

The routes represent the first stage of proposed cycleway improvements that will be developed in conjunction with the relief road and associated developments to the west and north of Whitehill and Bordon.

Town Council leader Adam Carew said he was keen to see cycle paths stretching the full “spine” of the town, along the length of the A325.

Mr Fox explained that, in tandem with the relief road, work to downgrade the old A325 and make it less attractive to motorists will allow the authority to make better provision for cyclists. He added that, at present, engineers are “restricted” by the existing network of paths and roads the town offers.

However, he was keen to emphasise that this was “very much the first phase” and plenty more routes would be introduced as the town’s regeneration took shape.

The project has used Whitehill and Bordon’s Walking and Cycling Strategy, published in 2013, as a guide with the overarching aim to help people reduce their car use where possible.

Welcoming the project, town mayor Sally Pond said it was “good” to encourage cycling in the town.

The proposed routes are:

* On-carriageway cycle lanes in both directions along Chalet Hill between the A325 and Hollywater School;

* On-carriageway cycle lanes in both directions along Hollybrook Park and Conde Way, plus a new shared use path between the A325 and Forest Road;

* On-carriageway cycle symbols on Apollo Drive, Pinehill Road and Devon Road;

* On-carriageway cycle lanes in both directions along Forest Road north of Conde Way;

* On-carriageway cycle symbols on Forest Road between Conde Way and Liphook Road;

* On-carriageway cycle symbols on New Road and a link on to the A325 shared used path and crossing.

Mr Fox told councillors that the scheme would go out to tender soon, with work expected to be completed by April 2016.

At that point, the dots will have been joined and Shipwrights Way can open. The name reflects the use of oak grown at Alice Holt Forest for Tudor shipbuilding, linking this site with Portsmouth.

Starting from Alice Holt, the route passes through Bordon, Liphook, Liss, Petersfield, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Staunton Country Park, Havant, Hayling Island and continues to Portsmouth via the ferry, finishing at the Historic Dockyard. The final section, through Whitehill and Bordon to Liss, will use a combination of new and existing pathways and should be complete by summer.