AN £8.4million power cable upgrade is set to close town centre roads in Petersfield and roads to Rogate and Fernhurst.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks engineers are due to start work at the Bedford Road substation at the end of March.

The project is expected to take up to 19 months to complete. But it is hoped the road closures in Petersfield will be finished by July.

Lead project manager James Rooney said: “We have completed a number of trial holes to make sure there aren’t any problems along the route, and we are happy there aren’t.

"The start date is March 30 and we are planning on working seven days a week as much as possible. The finish date of around November next year is worst case, and if we can get finished quicker we will do.”

A previous £2m cable upgrade in 2017 by the electricity company saw the town centre grind to a halt.

And this time there will be road closures along Bedford Road, Frenchmans Road, Swan Street, Chapel Street, Windsor Road and Ramshill, and the London Road in Sheet to Hill Brow, then along Rake Road and on to Fernhurst.

Project manager Yu Qian said: “The 2017 work was a totally unrelated lower voltage network upgrade, so this work couldn’t have been done at the same time.”

And this work will leave the network able to cope as Petersfield grows, as well as making the power supply more secure and quicker to reconnect in event of a power cut – ‘future proofing’ the system.

Yu Qian said: “At the moment there are in excess of 10,000 customers and this work will make their power supply more robust.

“We are expecting demand to grow as more people and businesses move to the area and electric cars become more common, so this will ensure there is enough power available for future needs.”

Work has started inside the Bedford Road substation and a route has been chosen to put sections of overhead rural power lines underground.

Yu Qian added: “The aim is to ‘underground’ about 15 kilometres of overhead power lines along the Rake Road to Fernhurst.

"This will increase the security of the supply, making it highly unlikely to suffer during storms like the ones there have been recently.”