A RAPIDLY expanding market town is set to get a new school.

Lancashire County Council has launched a consultation on a new primary in Clitheroe.

The school, if it goes ahead, would be built on the Higher Standen Farm site in the town opening in September 2023.

It would eventually have 210 pupils which would accommodate rising numbers of children as a result of new housing in the area and an increase in the birth rate.

The Higher Standen Farm development is set to provide 1,040 of around 1,400 houses planned for the Clitheroe area over the next few years.

The school, although commissioned by the county council, would be a ‘free school’ and not run by it.

Cllr Allan Knox, leader of the Ribble Valley Council Liberal Democrat group who represents Clitheroe’s Primrose ward, welcomed the ‘much-needed’ primary but said a secondary equivalent would be needed in the longer term.

This week’s move follows a county council cabinet decision in June to examine the case of the new school to the South-East of the town.

A site has been secured in an agreement between the county authority, Ribble Valley Council and the landowner Higher Standen Trustee.

The building would be provided by the county council and partly-funded through contributions from the housing development.

Cllr Knox said: “The school is much needed.

“A primary school is a good first step in view of the scale of housing development in Clitheroe and Whalley but a some point in the future this area of the Ribble Valley will also need a new secondary school.

“I would prefer it if the new primary was not a ‘free school’ but one maintained by the county council.”

Cllr Phillippa Williamson, the county council’s education boss, said: “The county council is responsible for making sure that we have enough high-quality school places available to meet demand.

“We have extended existing schools in the area, but future developments, plus an increase in the birth rate, mean we need to consider if a new school is needed.

“I am really keen that people take part in this consultation.”

The consultation will run until 5pm on January 15 with a formal process to follow.