WE are about to submit our Core Strategy to the Government Inspector for examination and readers will be aware that we have just been awarded a £43m grant for infrastructure.

Our strategy has been and remains focussed on improving the county economy which has been historically affected by low wages and high house prices, where the young leave for jobs elsewhere or don’t return after university.

We must help existing businesses to grow and attract new ones. That means more and affordable homes, employment sites and projects like the new university. Our plans for the county up to 2031 identify major housing and employment sites for over 16,000 homes and 7,000 jobs in the county. Over 4,000 of the jobs will be at the Enterprise Zone.

This growth will need new infrastructure, much of it funded by the government. The £43 million recently awarded grant for transport packages will improve access in the south and centre of the city and help attract the new employers.

The city centre package will support brownfield development of commercial and housing needs, improved access to the rail station and enhancements to streets.

The south package will improve access to the Enterprise Zone and bring transport improvements in the residential areas south of the river. Given the importance of the A49, we have worked closely with and cooperated with the Highways Agency to develop these packages.

Initial findings of the agency's strategic review of roads confirm our concerns – slow journey speeds, poor reliability and resilience on the A49 in Hereford. It concludes that traffic capacity improvements will be required to support further future growth.

We will continue to work closely with government agencies and, taking into account the environmental impact constraints, plan to deliver a western-aligned relief road as an integral part of that infrastructure programme.

Economic growth is the future of the county.

CLLR TONY JOHNSON, Leader, Herefordshire Council