CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a Darlington primary school and rebuild it on the edge of town will go before the council cabinet on Tuesday.

Director of education Geoff Pennington is recommending the cabinet approves, in principle, moving Alderman Leach School to a new £2.9m site at the proposed West Park development at Faverdale.

In his report, he says the move is a cost effective means of providing a new school to replace declining old buildings.

He adds: "It moves the school into the centre of its admission area by making it accessible to the new developments at High Grange and West Park while retaining its accessibility to existing parents. And it provides a viable future for a school that has been losing pupils in recent years."

But many parents and residents are angry that a new school is not being built on the existing site.

They are concerned about the safety of children having to walk beside the busy West Auckland Road to reach West Park and are worried about the possible dangers of building a school on land previously occupied by the Darchem chemical company.

One of the parents who has objected to the plans, Christine Kane, of Bates Avenue, said: "The impact on the safety and travel arrangements for the children currently attending the school has not been fully considered.

"It's a shame that the map of proposed walking routes was not made available to local residents along with the council questionnaire; they might then have been able to share parents' concerns from the outset."

Mr Pennington says that to accommodate the concerns of some parents about the distance they would have to walk to the new school, it is proposed to increase the entry numbers at nearby Mount Pleasant School from 35 to 45 in 2004-5.

A school travel plan will also be produced.

Mrs Kane has also written to each cabinet member to express parents' concerns.

In her letter she says: "I would hope that you will fully consider all the ramifications of the relocation before reaching your decision - not just the financial but, more importantly, the safety of this and future generations of pupils attending Alderman Leach Primary School.