WORK on a much-needed new Gwent primary school should begin next month after a final hurdle is overcome.

Newport Council announced the financial agreement with developers behind the plans to build a new Durham Road school at the Glebelands will be signed in March.

And work is expected to begin almost immediately after the final paperwork is signed by Vinci Investments Ltd.

The developer will be building the school, a replacement for the dilapidated Durham Road Infants and Junior Schools for the council under the government's private finance initiative (PFI).

The school is due to open in January 2010 after work is finished by the end of 2009.

The news comes after a series of delays, set backs and opening dates.

Proposals for the new school and houses on a nearby site first got permission in 2000.

A series of delays dogged the scheme but it seemed to be powering ahead after the Assembly gave the green light to the finance scheme last August.

Last month, Jeff Beecher, headteacher of both schools, said staff and pupils were desperate for new accommodation.

Cabinet member for young people's services Bob Poole said: "This is an important milestone and I am delighted that contracts are due to be signed shortly. This is great news for everyone involved in the new school."

The new school will include primary and nursery education as well as an all-weather games area.

The development also includes plans for up to 150 houses on the former Compton Webb site.

Discussions are currently taking place between Vinci and other developers about the housing development after Charles Church Developments Ltd withdrew from the scheme.