REGIONAL development agency Advantage West Midlands has put £9.5 million toward the Rotherwas Futures project - the first part of a "double whammy" deal to get the county's biggest industrial estate its own access road and secure its future for expansion.

The cash commitment was confirmed on Monday and is crucial to Herefordshire Council's plans.

Last week the Hereford Times reported former Hereford mayor Councillor Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes as saying the city didn't need a Rotherwas access road. She wanted such investment switched to "getting the Edgar Street grid going".

The council has also run into opposition over underwriting £8 million so the project could meet an agreed timetable with tenders out now, a plan that depends on developers interested in building 300 homes at Bullinghope coming up with cash for the road.

Critics say south Hereford is already saturated with housing, without much-needed community facilities to match.

News of the £9.5 million gives the council breathing space in its battle to have the road built.

The "double whammy" revealed by the Hereford Times in August sees a combination of public and private sector cash invested in the estate, home to 125 firms.

John Edwards, AWM chief executive, said that Rotherwas industrial estate had an important part to play in providing quality jobs for the county.

"The benefits of a redeveloped estate and a new access road will be enjoyed by the whole of Herefordshire," he said.

Councillor Roger Phillips, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: "The Rotherwas Industrial Estate is key to securing the county's long-term economic viability."