WORK is set to start on a Poundbury school nearly 20 years after it was first proposed.

Construction is expected to start in the coming weeks on the 600 pupil school, which will replace the existing Damers First School in Dorchester.

It comes as the council also announced work is due to begin on the new £5.4million Bere Regis Primary School.

Cllr Toni Coombs, cabinet member for children and young people at Dorset County Council, said: "We have seen a significant rise in the school-age population recently.

"The council has a duty to make sure all children in Dorset have access to good quality education in buildings that are fit for purpose and that we are able to cope with future demand.

“The new designs for Damers and Bere Regis will provide this in an affordable way. I am pleased we can now move forward with building these two new schools for the local communities.”

BAM Construction Ltd has been appointed to build the new Damers school, which will cost just under £10m.

Building work is expected to be finished in December 2016 with pupils and staff moving to their new premises in spring 2017.

Cllr Trevor Jones, county councillor for Dorchester, said: "It's almost 20 years since the proposal to relocate Damers First School to Poundbury was first agreed in principle, allowing for a much better school building and release of the old site for additional hospital use.

"It's all taken a long time but I'm delighted that we're nearly there."