WORK is about to start on a £457,000 scheme to improve a Hampshire junction branded a danger to cyclists after a spate of crashes.

Earlier this year Hampshire County Council was given the go-ahead to turn Ipley Crossroads, between Lyndhurst and Dibden, into a staggered junction.

The crossroads has been the scene of more than 50 injury accidents - including two fatalities - over the past 20 years.

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.

Plans to turn the crossroads into a staggered junction were approved by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) in January.

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 NPA report said: "The C97 has 'Stop' markings at the junction.

"However, the open nature of the crossroads has resulted in many drivers ignoring road safety at this junction and driving straight over the C63 Beaulieu Road without giving way."

In April the county council announced that the decision to turn the crossroads into a staggered junction would have to be agreed by the government.

Now the authority has confirmed that all the necessary approvals are in place. Work will start once the bird nesting season is over and is likely to take six weeks.

A council spokesperson said road closures would be needed at certain times.

They added: "The council is working closely the New Forest National Park Authority, Verderers, Natural England and Forestry England to make sure the scheme is carried out sensitively in this unique part of Hampshire.

"The council is in close contact with the nearby residents and local businesses to keep them fully informed, and this will continue during the construction phases."

Four years ago the existing junction was named as one of the worst in the country for accidents involving bikes.

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

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