Northumberland County Council is working to minimise any impact on students who will be attending two new schools in Ponteland.

It follows a delay in the decision by National Planning Casework Unit on the development of a new schools and leisure complex for the town.

The County Council’s strategic planning committee agreed that it was ‘minded to approve’ the scheme at its meeting in January.

In line with normal protocol for a major proposal of this type, the council’s decision on the project was referred to the National Planning Casework Unit for a decision from the Secretary of State on whether he wishes to call-in the application for his own determination.

The multi-million pound project will see new state of the art primary and secondary schools alongside leisure and cultural facilities, all based on the site of the existing leisure centre on Callerton Lane.

Cllr Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Ensuring there are top quality learning environments for our young people is key to us, and this exciting development will provide modern facilities for students for years into the future.

“The normal timeframe for a decision by the Secretary of State is 21 days, however we passed this date on the 14th March and have been informed by the National Planning Casework Unit that this will be delayed further.

“Due to a delay in receiving the decision, it is becoming increasingly likely that this will impact on the completion of building work.  We are working closely with local and national partners as a priority, and have been in regular contact with the MP and senior ministers to ensure a speedy resolution.

“We will minimise the impact on students, with the delay now resulting in the potential need for temporary accommodation to be used.

“In the meantime we are getting ready to start work on the site as soon as approval is issued.  Some preparatory work has already taken place, including tree pruning and service investigation within the area on Callerton Lane.

“This is not pre-empting any decision but is part of the ongoing site investigations.”

A drop in event has been arranged for parents on Wednesday 25th April from 9am – 10.30am and then 2.30pm – 4.30pm at Ponteland Leisure Centre, where the Project Team will be happy to answer questions or discuss concerns.