IT is significant that one of the first major planning decisions affecting west Northumberland taken at the beginning of a new decade is one which has taken decades of campaigning to achieve.

Planning permission was granted on Tuesday for a £36.1m investment in new buildings, which will see Hexham Middle School and Queen Elizabeth High School pupils all located on the current high school site by September 2021.

The planning approval signals a major step forward for young people and families across Tynedale who have, for far too long, been underserved aging educational facilities in Hexham which have been crying out for investment.

Teachers too have, for years, battled to deliver top quality educational outcomes in conditions which are challenging to say the least.

We know the investment will bring huge benefits to the local community, and that it is being funded by £23m towards the project from Northumberland County Council, with the remaining cash coming from central government through the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The new buildings will be leased by the council to the Hadrian Learning Trust, the charitable educational trust which runs both schools, which has publicly pledged to keep the schools operating within Hexham’s three-tier system despite the middle school relocation.

However, while there is clearly much to celebrate about the project, voices of objection and concern continue to ring out loud and clear from some corners of the local community.

Preserving the proud history of the high school site, dealing with the extra congestion and managing road safety for motorists and pedestrians have all been highlighted by organisations and residents in Hexham over the last 12 months.

We now look to the learning trust and the council to ensure these issues are addressed while their vision for the site is delivered on time and within budget.