AN £2.65m investment to build a new primary school in Haltwhistle has been approved by Northumberland councillors.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, councillors backed a budget increase of £1m, after a budget of £1.6m had already been agreed.

Funding from Northumberland County Council and WISE Academies – the trust which took over responsibility for the first and middle schools in June last year – will see the existing middle school converted to accommodate the new primary structure in line with the Haydon Bridge Partnership.

At a Haltwhistle Town Council meeting on Monday, Zoe Carr of WISE Academies, told councillors that the school was on track to be open by September next year.

She said: “We’re really looking forward to sharing our plans for the schools with the community.

“One of the real drives for us is community use and we’re listening to residents on anything else they would like us to consider.”

Chairman of Haltwhistle Town Council, Coun. Alan Sharp, said: “The council have always said we will support what is best for the children, and on the whole it’s been well received.”

As part of the county council agreeing to invest in the school, however, the middle school site will lose its gym and a section of its nearby green space.

Zoe said: “We were trying to agree with the council that the gym is important for the children, but we didn’t receive the response we wanted.

“We’re working to make sure that the children’s physical education entitlement is in no way cut down.

“I haven’t heard any plans from the council as to anything they want to do with the green space. However we’re looking to develop a footpath to help accessing the site.”

Northumberland county councillor for Haltwhistle, Ian Hutchinson, said he had every faith in WISE in delivering what was best for the school.