PROSPECTS of a Leominster jobs bonanza looked bright this week as work started on a major new road to open up a £20 million new enterprise park to incoming industries.

The link, from the A49 Leominster bypass to the industrial zone via a planned new bridge over the railway, will create a new 'gateway' to the town.

It could also pave the way for a potential east-west relief road to allow a major diversion of the A44 on a new route south of Leominster at some time in the future.

Supporters of the relief road concept say work beginning this week will provide a vital 'missing link' to the main highways network.

Leominster mayor Janet Atkinson welcomed "a very important development which will have a big impact on the town." It would bring jobs and ease traffic problems.

The link road would take the pressure off Worcester Road and Etnam Street where houses shake with vibration caused by heavy lorries.

Traffic is expected to reduce when the skewed and hazardous Worcester Road railway bridge is closed to vehicles next summer as the new infrastructure is completed.

Better industrial access is the main thrust of the plans.

Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, which is developing the enterprise park with Herefordshire Council, said the 29-acre site could provide 600 new jobs. Factory plots are being sold on a 125-year lease.


AWM director Mark Pearce said: "We will be enabling the expansion of businesses in the town to continue when they might otherwise have moved elsewhere.

"Leominster desperately needs more employment sites."

Herefordshire Council cabinet member for economic development, George Hyde, described the new industrial park as "a shot in the arm to the business economy in the north of the county."

An access road, services and street lighting have been installed on the former farmland site which currently only has a single entrance point from Hereford Road.

The eastern road link to the A49/A44 junction was always seen as a vital step but progress was delayed because of wrangles over compulsory purchase of land, which resulted in a public inquiry in Leominster last summer.

AWM and the council said the road was vital to help create new jobs and safeguard 1,200 existing jobs at the Southern Avenue industrial estate.

The government agreed the major changes to the roads system last autumn.

The scheme involves closure of the existing A49/A44 junction. The roundabout will be replaced with a new one about 60 metres south and part of the A44, from where it crosses the River Lugg at Eaton Bridge, will be re-routed.

Access over the old railway bridge will be restricted to cyclists and pedestrians.