County Durham's Consett Academy sponsor announced

A further education college is to sponsor a new academy in County Durham.

Consett Academy will replace Moorside Community Technology College and Consett Community Sports College.

New Durham College is to be the lead sponsor, with Durham County Council as the co-sponsor, subject to the approval of the council's cabinet.

The £20.7m project, on a site in Belle Vue, had faced opposition from some residents, but it is now hoped that it will open in 2012.

It had been set to cost £31.7m, but government spending cuts enforced the reduction.

The proposal was then amended to fit the reduced budget, with £6m saved through a number of measures including lower relocation costs through retaining an on-site rugby club.

'Tremendously exciting'

Durham County Council's cabinet has agreed to find the additional £5m through a mix of land sales and unallocated grants.

Dave Ford, acting director of children and young people's services at the council, described it as a "tremendously exciting project".

He said: "The benefits a purpose-built state-of-the-art, single site education establishment for the young people of Consett will bring should not be underestimated."

New College Durham is already working in partnership with the council as the sponsor of the North Durham Academy in Stanley.

John Widdowson, principal of the college said: "The college will build strong and effective partnerships with business, industry and local organisations, to engage and enthuse them to place learning at the heart of a thriving and confident community.

"The academy will be an outstanding school for the 21st century."

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