FUNDS to build six new classrooms at a Basingstoke junior and infant school have been approved by the county council.

At his decision day on September 22, Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education, approved an investment of £8.2 million to expand three school sites in the county, including Oakridge Junior and Infant Schools, in Oakridge Road.

The plans will allow the Basingstoke schools to increase the capacity to offer an extra 30 places for Year R children and an extra 30 places for Year 3 children, allowing the infants to cater for 270 pupils and the juniors for 360 pupils, making them three form entry.

Oakridge Infant School already admitted 90 pupils in Year R in 2015, to reflect the local pressure for places as a result of a rise in the number of births in the area and new housing development. The 578 homes currently under construction at Chapel Hill, off Kingsclere Road, will be included in the school’s catchment.

The expansion, which will include a single storey building with six classrooms, an extension to the junior school, and a new infant play area, will provide permanent facilities for this increased number of pupils from September 2018.

Construction is planned to start next year.

A consultation on the plans was held earlier this year and a planning application was submitted in July, but has not yet been approved by Hampshire County Council.

Feedback from those who took part in the consultation highlighted concerns regarding an increase in traffic and pressure on the road network.

To alleviate this pressure, the plans include a new pedestrian entrance from Sherborne Road to reduce the number of people having to cross Oakridge Road, and extra bike provision.

The plans also mention the loss of mature trees, which will be compensated for with the planting of 10 native species of trees such as oak or horse-chestnut.

Cllr Edgar said: “Thanks to our strong track record in planning for the future, our provision of additional school places is keeping pace with continued rising demand in Hampshire. We are also able to take the opportunity to improve facilities using innovative thinking and the latest technological developments.

“We pride ourselves on investing in quality school buildings that are built to be sustainable and provide a good environment for learning. Having a significant in-house team of designers who specialise in school buildings, results in excellent spaces for learning.

“This expertise and our years of experience means we are able to provide top quality, functional facilities that are also aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient and sustainable. In addition, the size and capacity as a local authority allows us to deliver effective economics of scale, and ensure that taxpayers receive the best possible value for money.”