MULTI-million pound plans to dual a bridge over the River Severn will be a major boost to the economy of Malvern and the surrounding areas.

The government has agreed to provide £54.5 million to widen the Carrington Bridge south of Worcester, at a stroke improving Malvern's connections with the motorway network.

The announcement was made by Roads Minister Jesse Norman during a visit to the bridge on Friday, and it has been welcomed by civic and industry leaders in Malvern.

Alan White, director of Malvern Hills Science Park, said: "This award is absolutely brilliant. Businesses and business organisations and councils have been lobbying for this for years, and now our efforts have borne fruit, we're absolutely delighted.

"Everyone is cock-a-hoop. Malvern is a great place to live and work, but its only slight disadvantage is transport links. This will bring the town closer, not only to the motorway but to the rail network and airports, and will make Malvern a more attractive place to be."

Dr Adrian Burden, founder of the Wyche Innovation Centre at Upper Colwall, said: "It will be a great improvement for Malvern. We've all queued in traffic around Worcester, and this will go a long way towards alleviating these problems.

"We spend a fair amount of time meeting people face-to face, so initiatives like this and the new Worcester Parkway railway station are very important."

Coun David Chambers, portfolio holder for economic development at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “This announcement is most welcome indeed. Improvements to the infrastructure serving the district are a key part of our economic prosperity priority and we have been supporting this project and lobbying for a new Carrington Bridge and dualling of the A4440 for many years.

"Improved accessibility to the motorway network will help our excellent businesses get their products to market and also enable better access for their workforce and customers, in addition to improving things for people who live here and opening up new opportunities for tourism.”

Cllr Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: “It will improve journey times and the reliability of the network. It will be a big boost for Malvern.

“Worcestershire already has one of the fastest growing economies in the country and the completion of the southern link road will make the county even more attractive as a place to live, work and invest.”

MP Harriett Baldwin said: “I feel immense joy that the years of lobbying have finally paid off and the case has been made to double the Carrington Road bridge. The road has been over capacity for many years and it has been a regular issue both in my postbag but also with the businesses who raise it whenever I meet with them."