AN additional 1,700 New Forest premises are to receive superfast broadband following a successful £1m bid to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) and its partners, including the New Forest National Park Authority, secured the funding to extend coverage to some of the county’s hardest-to-reach areas.

The work will be carried out between now and December 2015.

HCC leader Roy Perry said: “Areas such as the New Forest and Test Valley have large areas which do not have access to decent broadband speeds, so this is an extremely positive outcome.”

The investment will give local communities which would otherwise miss out on the advantages of an improved internet connection better broadband speeds.

Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Fast, reliable broadband coverage is crucial to building stronger rural economies and enabling farmers and all rural businesses to grow and thrive.”

The news has been welcomed in the New Forest.

Peter Heywood-Broomfield, chairman of the Community Broadband Group in the New Forest, said: “The successful bid will make a huge difference to those selected rural parishes which are too small to be commercially attractive and in danger of being left in a communications desert.

“A good broadband service will have a significant impact on the ability to conduct business and is increasingly important in the delivery of social and public services.”

New Forest National Park Authority chief executive Alison Barnes said: “It is essential that the Forest has a thriving economy and broadband is vital to ensuring we can sustain the right kinds of business.”

People can still sign up to the broadband campaign.

This will help demonstrate there are potential customers who use these services. High levels of demand and uptake help the programme funding go further – increasing the number of locations the council is able to reach. Superfast broadband is becoming increasingly important to farmers. Most modern farm machinery relies on internet use in the field and on-farm.

For details call 01962 845155 or email alison.taylor@hants.