FINAL approval of £450,000 plans to widen the footpaths along a busy road in the centre of Swanage could be given next week.

Work has already been started by Dorset Council on its wider scheme for the town, but the contentious legal order for Institute Road has yet to be agreed.

It will now come before its eastern planning committee on Wednesday, February 5, with a recommendation that it be signed-off.

The plans for Institute Road include removing the existing loading bays to widen both pavements.

The work was prompted by a collision in 2015 in which four pedestrians were seriously injured.

But the move has drawn opposition from some shop owners concerned about the loss of the ability to unload deliveries directly outside their stores.

Despite this, a report published ahead of Wednesday’s meeting says the order should be approved.

“It is clear that the busy nature and function of Institute Road along with high numbers of pedestrians on narrow footways is causing conflicts between pedestrians and traffic,” it says.

“This is a result of two main factors, the first the narrow nature of the footways and secondly a loading bay placed along the entire length of the road.”

The road is 5m wide but this is halved when the bays are taken into consideration. The pavements vary from 1.3-1.8m in width.

This leads to larger vehicles having to drive partly on the pavement to get around those that are stopped, the report adds.

Speaking about the project last month, council infrastructure manager Kate Tunks said: “It has been difficult to design a solution that provides everybody with what they would like but there is no questioning the fact that the pedestrian environment on Institute Road must be improved.”

The project has been supported by Swanage Town Council which will contribute £100,000 to the overall £450,000 cost of the scheme.

Most (£275,000) of the remainder will be covered by Dorset Council although £75,000 of developer contributions will also be used.

The work has been supported by the ward councillors for Swanage Gary Suttle and Bill Trite.

A final decision will be made on Wednesday.