Plans for new schools in Somerset unveiled

School classroom Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pupil numbers in Somerset are expected to increase in the next few years

New schools need to be built in Somerset to cope with demand for places, the county council has said.

Somerset County Council has unveiled plans to build new schools or expand existing ones at 24 sites over the next seven to 10 years.

Fourteen will be on new sites, with the most development in Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil.

If approved, the first phase will cost £140m, most of which will be borrowed from the government.

Council leader David Fothergill said it was a "huge decision" that will see new schools built, extended or improved in "all of our major towns and many villages".

"It is a big step, it is a bold step, but it is the right step for us to make," he said.

The programme will see seven school developments in Taunton, four in Bridgwater, three in Yeovil and one each in Burnham-on-Sea/Highbridge, Wells, Shepton Mallet, Frome, Street, Somerton, Castle Cary, Ilminster, Crewkerne and Chard.

Image copyright Crown Copyright / OS
Image caption The blue dots show the areas of proposed new school developments

It is predicted pupil numbers will rise over the next few years due to an increase in the number of new homes in the county.

The overall plan will create an additional 2,300 secondary school places by 2023, the council said.

The first scheme will be to build a second site for Selworthy School in Taunton, at a cost of £9m, on the site of the former St Augustine's School.

Nineteen projects will also expand primary and specialist schools in the county.

A spokesman said the council will fund about £116m of the £140m needed for the first phase, with money being borrowed through the Public Works Loan Board.

The rest will come from developer contributions and the Department for Education, the council spokesman added.

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