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New school gets committee approval

A design image for the new Morpeth First School in Loansdean.
A design image for the new Morpeth First School in Loansdean.

A long-awaited new first school in Morpeth to replace the 107-year-old Goosehill site has been given the green light.

The application for a two-storey school plus external play areas, a multi-use games area and parking for 78 vehicles on the former fire-station site at Loansdean was unanimously approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.

The proposals include the provision of classrooms, including an outdoor one on the roof, and other facilities such as a main hall, studio, staff rooms, offices, kitchen and toilets.

The new school will also provide a community space at ground-floor level, accessible outside of school hours and available to the public for events.

The outdoor spaces are just one of the major improvements from the current Goosehill school, which has limited space due to its town-centre location.

The approval followed an impassioned plea from headteacher Elaine Reay, who highlighted the difficulties educating pupils in the 21st century in a school built before the First World War.

She said: “We continue to literally paper over the cracks with bright displays celebrating our children’s achievements.”

Despite this, Goosehill ‘continues to provide a first-class education’ and retains its outstanding Ofsted rating with a full roll.

A new school across the road on the County Hall site was given the go-ahead in March 2017, but was subsequently dropped when the Conservatives formed the new administration after last year’s election and abandoned the planned move of the council headquarters to Ashington.

The new scheme uses the previous design on the new site, which will save ‘many months of re-work’, and the council approved £6.85million of capital funding last November.

Morpeth Town Council supported the application, but called for additional crossings on the busy A197.

Ben O’Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service