PLANS to build a new primary school in a County Durham village have moved a step closer.

Members of Durham County Council’s countywide planning committee have given the go-ahead for the new facility in Bowburn. The plans will now be referred to the Secretary of State for final approval.

If agreed, the new school will see the amalgamation of the village’s infant and junior schools on the current site of Bowburn Junior School on Surtees Avenue.

The two-storey, modern building will provide 540 primary and 70 nursery places, meeting a need for additional places which has resulted from a number of new housing developments in the area.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “The new school will provide a more modern, fit-for-purpose learning environment, which will also help us meet a demand for more primary school places in the local area.

“It also offers us the opportunity to bring infant and junior provision together on the same site and this approach has significant benefits for children and staff.

“Primary schools offer an increased opportunity for staff to work together in the best interests of pupils, while working under one headteacher and one governing body can also provide greater consistency.

“Furthermore, it can reduce the potential for the disruption that some children experience when they make the transition from infant to junior school.”

The existing Bowburn Junior School was built in the 1970s and changes have been relatively minor since its original construction.

Its proposed replacement has been designed in consultation with the two existing schools and the community so that it meets the requirements of pupils, families, staff and local residents.