LONG-AWAITED plans for a new 600-pupil school in Dorchester have been unveiled.
An agreement for the school in Poundbury has been reached between Dorset County Council and Duchy of Cornwall, with Simon Conibear from the Duchy claiming the school will be ‘great for Dorchester’.
Plans for the school on Prince Charles’s model development have been in the pipeline since 2005 and it will replace the existing Damers First School in the county town.
The Duchy’s Dorchester estate director Mr Conibear said the new school would accommodate 600 pupils and serve the west side of the county town as well as Poundbury itself.
It will be situated on land overlooking the Great Field to the north of Peverell Avenue East.
Mr Conibear said: “I think it will be great for Dorchester and it will be an opportunity to bring a facility into Poundbury which will be shared with the whole of the west of Dorchester.
“Two thirds of the pupils will probably come from the west side of Dorchester and one third from Poundbury and the integration between the two is very important from our point of view.”
He added: “We have been working on this facility for several years and we are very pleased the county council has now resolved to move forward.”
Mr Conibear said that the addition of the first school would also help make Poundbury a more attractive place for people with young children to set up home, with more and more younger families already taking up residence in the development.
He said: “There has been an increasing proportion of younger families moving into Poundbury and we think this will be a great facility for them.”
A spokesman for Dorset County Council confirmed that an agreement had been reached for the relocation of the existing Damers School to a new school at Poundbury.
She added that the new school was currently in the design phase and negotiations were continuing between the council and the landowner, the Duchy of Cornwall.
Poundbury resident Margaret Morrissey, a campaigner with the national group Parents Outloud, said it was ‘excellent news’ that progress was finally being made on the new school and she said she now wanted the plans to move forward at a decent pace.
She said: “My initial reaction is it’s nothing short of a miracle and I hope that having got this far we are now going to see a school there within the next two years because it’s so important for the youngsters in Dorchester.
“Everywhere schools are getting full up and there are lots of children up here that are having to trek into town and can’t find school places.”
A county council spokesman said the authority expected to submit a planning application later in the year and would hold a public event prior to submitting the plans for people to find out more about what is being proposed.