CHILDREN should never again be turned away from their popular village primary after plans for a new £6.3million school were given the green light.

Councillors this week gave the nod to a proposal to build a new primary school and nursery in Escomb, near Bishop Auckland.

Durham County Council's cabinet approved plans to replace the existing 210-place school with a one that can accommodate 410 two to 11-year-olds.

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The scheme has to be passed by full council later this month and will require planning permission, but a 1.6acre parcel of land and £2.1m from a housing developer has been earmarked for the building, along with £2.1m from the council's 2019-20 and 2021-22 budgets.

Ward Councillors Rob Yorke and Christine Wilson said so many new homes have been built nearby since the school opened in 1861that some Escomb children have missed out on a place at the village school.

Cllr Yorke said: "It was built for the village but some of the new houses are geographically closer so there have been times when Escomb children haven't got in, we should never again see anyone from Escomb unable to attend."

And with work due to start on 148 houses near the school this summer and hundreds more properties proposed for the outskirts of Bishop Auckland, demand will grow.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, portfolio holder for children and young people's services, said: "Budgets are stretched but working with local members, officers and stakeholders we are able to move towards a new build, it is the right thing for this area.

"All stages of education are important but I'm really passionate about early years provision so to have a nursery and a wonderful new primary will create the foundations to build upon."

Headteacher Wendy Gill said the nursery will be a huge asset to the area, particularly as some youngsters currently do not attend pre-school because of poor transport links.

She added: "This is a great opportunity for us, to offer an education for children from two to 11 in new facilities, and for the community as we want children from the locality to go to school together, to build community spirit."

Chair of Governors Marjorie Kellett said: "We've been asking for a nursery and a new building for ages, there are parts of the school that are falling apart and a lot of money has been spent fixing demountable classrooms and replacing windows. This is brilliant news, it is a superb chance to build on what is already happening at this good school."

School and community leaders hope the development- likely to start in three years- will also tackle traffic and parking problems.