SWINDON Council is to hold a public consultation over two possible sites for a new primary school to help meet growing demand in the town centre.

The council needs to provide an extra 30 reception places a year by 2014 and the same again by 2016 due to a rise in births.

The two options, which were whittled down earlier this year from a possible five, are either a new school on land once used as a council depot off County Road, or a new school on an unused section of school field at St Joseph’s Catholic College.

All residents should have been sent a consultation questionnaire in the past fortnight, and a drop-in session to answer any questions will be held at Broadgreen Community Centre on Tuesday, October 16, between 6pm and 8pm.

The consultation closes on November 9 . The council's cabinet, which will make the final decision by December.

Coun David Renard, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It’s particularly important for parents of young children in the town centre area. They’ve got an opportunity now to say, first of all, which location they would prefer, and whether they would support or feel the demand for additional places for children from Catholic families.

“We need all that information to enable us to make the right choice on location.

“There’s been a lot of suggestion there’s a demand for children from Catholic families, but of course, if St Joseph’s is the preferred location, it doesn’t mean that non-Catholic children can’t go there.

“I would welcome feedback from families, whether they were from a Catholic background, or another faith, or no faith.”

Coun Renard said there are other factors people had to consider, such as closeness to households and safe access. He said the County Road site would need highways works and would therefore cost more.

In July, cabinet ruled out three other options, including controversial proposals to build new schools on the site of the Broadgreen Centre, in Salisbury Street, or on the site of the nursery beside the Civic Offices, in Euclid Street.

Coun Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) said: “I think, without a doubt, the preferred option is St Joseph’s. It ticks all the right boxes.

“It would be much quicker to create, cost less and I think fits in with most people who would go to it who would mostly be Catholic and would appreciate a Catholic school.

“And it has its own playing field there, so it’s the right choice.”