A package of long-term transport proposals designed to support economic growth, housing and jobs across south west Hertfordshire – without relying on private cars – has been approved.

The South West Herts Growth and Transport Plan includes dozens of schemes designed to improve ‘connectivity’ across Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans.

And the emphasis on walking, cycling and public transport aims to improve public health, encourage vibrant communities, improve safety and to reduce transport-related emissions too.

The plan – the first of five set to focus on different areas of the county – went out to public consultation last year.

And on Monday (March 18) the amended document was approved by a meeting of the county council’s cabinet.

Although the proposals are ‘conceptual’ at this stage – and would require further work before they were to be implemented – the plan will be used to inform the future work and decisions taken by the county council.

At the meeting, council leader Cllr David Williams said: “This is the first of these documents to come forward that will cover the county – with an approach that builds on the ‘urban transport plans’.

“I have been really impressed by the consultation that we have had the opportunity to consider. Clearly there was a lot of engagement here and some very positive feedback.”

In the past transport plans have been developed only for individual towns or urban areas.

But this document – developed in partnership with Dacorum, Watford, Three Rivers, St Albans and Hertsmere councils – stretches across a much larger area, with nine specific packages across the patch.

There are proposals to improve connectivity between Hemel Hempstead and Luton by car and by public transport – as well as limiting the impact of motorists in this area using roads in Harpenden and country lanes as rat-runs.

To improve journeys between St Albans and Watford there are proposals to maximise the use of the existing Abbey line.

Specific ideas include a new ‘St Albans South Public Transport Hub’ which would include a new Abbey Line railway station, direct bus services to St Albans City Station and the opportunity to change between local and interurban bus services.

In this ‘St Albans-Watford Corridor’ area there are also proposals for additional slip roads at junction 21 of the M25 and enhanced cycling facilities on the A405, linking St Albans to Leavesden.

In the ‘Watford Western Gateway’ area the plan aims to improve access to the Gateway and the Watford and Croxley business parks by enhancing sustainable transport links.

This could include looking at the use of a disused railway in west Watford, the introduction of a bus and cycle only link across the Rover Colne to link South Oxhey and the business parks area and enhanced cycleways linking the Western Gateway area to Watford Junction.

Improvements in the so-called ‘Watford-Hemel Hempstead Corridor’ are designed to promote train and bus travel, while discouraging car journeys in ‘inappropriate’ routes.

It includes proposals to improve Junction 20 of the M25, bus priority along the A41 and enhanced bus services between Hemel Hempstead and Watford.

It also includes enhanced cycleways along the Grand Union Canal towpath and the A411, from Hemel Hempstead to Watford town centre.

In ‘Watford Central’ there are proposals to reduce traffic congestion in the town centre, to create routes that avoid busy urban roads and to improve journeys on foot, by bike or by bus.

There are also plans to enable movements between junction 4 of the M1 and the A41 with a new slip, as well as a ‘park and ride’ facility at junction 5.

In Watford South there are proposals to make journeys by bike and bus more attractive – with a review of traffic and sustainable transport options on the local road network around Bushey Arches.

Proposals in the area also include enhanced bus priority services through Bushey and Carpenders Park and cycling links in Oxhey, South Oxhey, Carpenders Park and Bushey.

And in Rickmansworth there is a hope that journeys to the railway station and to Ebury Way could become a more attractive option, as a result of walking and cycling improvements.

Proposals include a new southern access into the Watford Western Gateway Business Parks and to Ebury Way for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as enhanced cycleways towards Rickmansworth Railway Station and the town centre.

Outlining the purpose of the plan, the officer’s report to the cabinet says the proposals will require “significant investment over a long period”.

It states: “The plan is intended to help the county council and its partners to work co-operatively and jointly to bring forward proposed schemes, combine resources and to support funding bids to external agencies.”