Work on a multi-million pound scheme to breathe new life into Hucknall town centre will finally begin in the summer.
The news comes after the Department for Transport approved a £8.5m funding package which will help to regenerate the town and create new jobs.
New roads will be built and sections of the High Street pedestrianised under the flagship scheme - which is expected to cost £12.9m in total.
The wide-ranging project will begin in August and is expected to be finished in January 2017.
News of the ‘major investment’ has been welcomed by council chiefs in the town.
Hucknall West member Coun Chris Baron, who is also Ashfield District Council leader, described it as ‘very good news’.
“Housing developments around Hucknall have put more pressure on the existing infrastructure so any extra funding to make life better for residents is most welcome,” he said.
Project leaders want the scheme to cut congestion, create an attractive shopping centre, attract new retailers and promote the regeneration of Hucknall.
It will also incorporate flood relief measures designed to improve some of the problems that have been experienced in the town in recent years.
A new road from Station Road/Ashgate Road to Baker Street/Annesley Road will be built, taking thousands of vehicles a day away from the High Street.
This will allow a pedestrian zone to be created along the High Street between Baker Street and Watnall Road, providing a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians, including wheelchair users.
Coun Jim Aspinall, portfolio holder for prosperity, said: “This is excellent news. Our commitment to regenerating all of the town centre is well publicised and this is a massive milestone towards realising our aspiration.
“I am very excited about this major investment which will make Hucknall High Street an even better place to shop as well as reducing traffic congestion and flooding.”
Community leaders have also welcomed the news, but hope traders will be offered support during the works’ programme.
We Love Hucknall chairman Sandy Singleton said: “Pedestrianisation has been on the statute books for 60-odd years.
“As long as it’s done with a little bit of consideration for the shopkeepers - they need to be told well in advance.
“We are jolly lucky we have a High Street and long may it continue.
“We want people to spend their money locally. If it comes in under budget it will be even better. We don’t want any shops going out of business.”
Sheila Robinson, chairman of the Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, said it will bring an end to more than six decades of waiting for Hucknall to be regenerated.
“It has been going on and on for too long,” she said. “With all the news houses being built we need something to bypass the town centre.
“We have a bypass around Hucknall which used to clear a lot of the traffic. But because the speed limit has been reduced from 70mph to 40mph, a lot of drivers just use the town.”
Hucknall MP Mark Spencer said: “Whilst I recognise that not everyone supports the specifics of the plan, everyone knows that we need investment.
“It’s great that the Government have listened and invested this enormous chunk of money; paying for the bulk of the cost of the scheme.
“This is something I have been pushing for months and I will continue now to make sure that we get what we need from it, especially ensuring that flood alleviation is included too.’’
The remainder of the cost will be funded by Nottinghamshire County Council.
Said Coun Kevin Greaves, chairman of the county council’s transport and highways committee at the county council: “After so many years of waiting, the start is now in sight and work is set to start this summer.
“The county council has been working with Ashfield District Council and the local community on this scheme for a long time and I’m thrilled that we can now look forward to seeing work begin.”