CIVIC chiefs have approved a £457,000 plan to cut the crash risk at a notorious accident blackspot in the New Forest.

Ipley Crossroads, part of a cross-country route from Hythe to Lyndhurst, will be turned into a staggered junction to stop people driving straight across.

It follows a spate of collisions in which cyclists have either been killed or seriously injured.

A new section of the C97 Lyndhurst to Ipley route will be built to create a T-junction 50 metres south of the current crossroads, with the redundant section of road returning to open forest.

The alteration will affect people driving east or west on the C97.

A Hampshire County Council spokesman said: "Instead of traffic being able to drive straight across the junction, vehicles will be forced to slow down in order to join Beaulieu Road.

"The county council has worked hard with landowners and statutory agencies to get to a point where these proposals can be taken forward.

“Resurfacing works on Beaulieu Road will also be required to remove the coloured high friction surfacing and out-of-date lining and road markings to ensure the surface of the carriageway suits the new road layout."

The scheme was welcomed by New Forest councillor David Harrison.

He said: "Given the terrible toll of incidents at this junction, including fatalities and serious injuries, it is excellent news that the Ipley crossroads is going to be converted into a much safer junction.

"All credit to the officers at Hampshire County Council for consulting and designing a scheme and for going through all the necessary steps to deliver it.

"It's very difficult to do something like this in a National Park, with all the special designations and considerations necessary."

The decision to approve the scheme follows a land swap deal reached with the New Forest Verderers.

Campaigners claim the excellent visibility at the junction, which is surrounded by open countryside, often results in drivers failing to look carefully as they approach the crossroads.

Some motorists are said to be ignoring newly-installed "Stop" signs near the junction.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Mark Brummell, 53, of Southampton, was killed in an accident with a Renault Megane in 2012. Four years later fellow cyclist Kieran Dix, 36, of Eastleigh, was fatally injured in a collision with a Vauxhall Zafira.

Three years ago the junction was named as one of the worst in the country for accidents involving cyclists.

The latest accident occurred in January. Dave Bensley was cycling through the Forest with fellow members of Southampton Cycling and Touring Club (STC) when he suffered serious neck and leg injuries in a collision.

After one of the crashes a white "ghost bike" was left at the scene in a bid to encourage drivers to take more care.

Referring to the deaths of Mr Brummell and Mr Dix, STC members said it was a "miracle" that Mr Bensley's accident did not result in a third fatality.

In a subsequent statement to the Verderers' Court the county council said: "The junction has been the site of multiple collisions particularly between cars and cyclists, resulting in fatalities and life-changing injuries.

"It can be hard to spot cyclists due to the open layout of the junction, which allows decisions about traversing to be made early."