THE fate of The Hundred's road closure in Romsey's town centre should be decided this week, the Advertiser understands.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) shut the road to traffic on July 1 last year in a bid to help people socially distance.

A county council consultation on traffic measures in Romsey had proposed keeping The Hundred closed and creating a one way system on nearby Portersbridge Street.

However, this led to fears from some residents about a new "rat run" route being created.

A HCC report has now revealed a decision on the scheme could be made on Thursday, June 17, which may see The Hundred reopen "when all social distancing rules are lifted" under the Government's roadmap out of lockdown - now set for Monday, July 19.

County councillor for Romsey Town, Mark Cooper, said scrapping the scheme will help hundreds of residents whose lives have been "severely affected", after some roads saw an increase in congestion following The Hundred's closure.

He explained: "The hundreds of people who want the Hundred reopened have had their quality of life severely affected, because many houses in Romsey have their front doors on the pavement, where more cars have been driving past.

"I think town centre residents will be relieved when it reopens."

Cllr Cooper stressed if The Hundred reopens fewer emissions will be pumped into the atmosphere if drivers no longer have to endure a 1.6 mile diversion route around the town.

He added more work has to be done to transform the town into a pedestrian-friendly place, following successful work on the piazza-style Market Place.

He explained: "I think the experience has shown that the work we have done in the Market Place has had a very positive impact on the town's ambience, but we need to do more by widening the pavements in the rest of The Hundred."

County councillor for Romsey Rural, Nick Adams-King, echoed this idea and said: "I still think the long term answer is either creating a shared surface like the Market Place and Bell Street, or finding a way by which we can close The Hundred to traffic at the busiest times.

"The feedback I have had is people have liked walking freely in places where the pavements are narrow, but I think it is probably right to open it because it is now a bit of a problem."

Meanwhile, town and borough councillor, Dorothy Baverstock, blasted the scheme as an "unsuccessful experiment" and believes the road should be reopened so Romsey can look its best for tourists.

She said: "I hope the county council learn from what has been quite an unsuccessful experiment.

"The closure was not done tastefully, as it was a temporary measure, but we are now going into the tourist season and we have to make Romsey look great for visitors, because at the moment it looks untidy."

HCC's executive member for highway operations, councillor Russell Oppenheimer, stressed he will look at the report carefully before decisions are made on any of the county's schemes.

He said: “I know there has been a mixed reaction to the emergency schemes in Hampshire and I will be reviewing the officers’ report carefully before making decisions this week.

"The lessons learned from the schemes will certainly feed into the next phase of Active Travel measures.”