Plans for new “state-of-the-art” secondary school buildings and facilities took a major step forward last night (April 20) as planning permission was granted.

At a high-level district development meeting of Epping Forest District Council, all 13 councillors present supported an application from the Ongar Academy.

The school, which opened in The Gables in September last year, plans to build three-storey buildings, a sports hall and a car park on land adjacent to Ongar Leisure Centre on Fyfield Road.

A first class of year seven pupils have so far been having lessons and other activities in temporary “modular” buildings.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, chairman councillor Brian Sandler said: “Do we want 800 children to have a state-of-the-art school with a sixth form centre, or not?

“It has been put forward, I think, very clearly.”

Despite some concerns about potential traffic issues, the plans were unanimously supported.

Councillor John Knapman said: “This will give Ongar a really excellent chance of having a first rate education in the locality, and not having children go off to Brentwood and off to Epping… I can do nothing but commend this."

The application will now pass to the Secretary of State for his final approval, before building work starts in the next few weeks.

Head teacher David Grant said: “This is another huge milestone for the school and we are very grateful to the Epping Forest District Council for their support.

“We are continuing to deliver the vision of a world class education for the children of Ongar and our new buildings will assist us in that aim.”

Preparation works including soil tests and archaeological investigations will now go ahead.

Chair of the Ongar Academy Trust, Pete Marchant, said: “Our team have worked incredibly hard to arrive at this point and we are delighted that we will be building such a wonderful new educational facility here in Ongar.”

The full building programme is set to start in the summer with contractor Kier Group, architects Bon Bryant and engineers Coinsby.

The new school is set to open in September 2017.