BOURNEMOUTH council has drawn-up £1.4m plans to increase capacity at four schools to meet demand caused by the borough’s “rapidly rising” birth rate.

Delays in the opening of a new free school have also prompted the authority to move forward with its work to create extra spaces at four academies.

Bournemouth School, Bournemouth School for Girls, Avonbourne College and Harewood College have all been earmarked for expansion with the council aiming to have the new spaces available from the start of the next school year.

The council is proposing to fund the works through a £1.4m basic needs grant from the department for education.

Of that, £600,000 would be spent at Avonbourne College, £400,000 at Harewood College and £200,000 each at the other schools.

A business case for the grant request says: “The birth rate in the borough has been rising rapidly since 2005 leading to, in the first instance, a need for a significant number of additional primary school places.

“This pressure will be shortly moving into the secondary phase and extra capacity is required.”

Work is underway on a new free school – the Livingstone Academy – on the former police station and magistrates’ court buildings in Madeira Road and Stafford Road, but the report says that extra spaces will need to be found at existing schools following delays in its opening.

“The provision will be designed to enable a timely, cost-effective expansion of capacity at all the schools,” it adds.

“It is essential due to the delay in the opening of Livingstone Academy and has required the bringing forward of proposals to expand other schools earlier and with a greater number of forms of entry than otherwise would have been the case.”

The new academy was due to open to its first students this year but that has been pushed back to 2020 and is yet to be confirmed by either the school or the department for education.

Approval for the plans will be sought from Bournemouth council’s cabinet this month before going to the its full council in December.

Due to the ongoing local government reorganisation process, the works will also be considered by the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole shadow authority on Wednesday (November 7).