HEREFORD'S long-awaited bypass is a step closer after councillors agreed a 15-year transport plan for the city.

The western route should be completed in that time, alongside thousands of new homes which are set to be built across Herefordshire.

Cabinet gave the road, and the authority's wider Local Transport Plan, the thumbs up during a meeting at Hereford Shirehall yesterday, although it still has to be ratified by full council.

The first part of the route, from the A49 south of Hereford, to the A465, will go before the council's Planning Committee on June 6.

Council leader Cllr Tony Johnson said the bypass would open up vital land along the route for development.

"The Local Transport Plan is one of the council’s most important strategic documents," he said.

"It sets out the county's infrastructure and transport needs in order to grow the economy - and Herefordshire must grow its economy. We have ambitious plans for infrastructure and housing growth, which in turn will strengthen the county’s position for years to come.

"The LTP includes the delivery of a Hereford bypass, which I know will be welcomed by many. However, we know that we will also need to improve other modes of travel to help become a healthier and more prosperous county.

"We are now moving to (the) delivery phase of the bypass which will include confirming the detailed route, securing planning permission, funding and acquisition of land prior to construction."

The Cabinet meeting heard Herefordshire's roads are currently in dire need of a revamp after being compared with those of a third-world country.

"Some of our roads are getting impassable," said Cllr Sebastian Bowen.

"Some are like back roads in Nigeria.

"We need to put some money into our roads.

"We only seem to be getting crumbs from the government. What we need are loaves."

Cabinet member Cllr Philip Price agreed, saying the cost of rectifying all the county's roads would be about £100million.

"If we were to put that aside you can guarantee the back benches would oppose it," he said.

"We are looking at it though and are trying to get money from the government."

The LTP includes a High Town improvement scheme, although members were warned against introducing a quick fix.

"The work there in the past has been a waste really," said Cllr Terry James.

"Given all the money that was spent there, it was very short term. We should be looking at work that will still be there in 100 years."