COUNCILLORS have backed plans for a new secondary school to be built in Ellon.
Members of the Formartine Area Committee last week unanimously supported two planning applications for the replacement academy for 1,200 pupils and staff at Cromleybank.
The near £50 million complex will include a swimming pool, sports facilities, an NHS dental surgery and acccommodation for Banff and Buchan College.
The campus plans also take in a footbridge across the River Ythan behind the waste water treatment facility at Castle Street, near the Meadows Sports Centre.
Both pedestrians and cyclists will be able to use the crossing, which will link the new school to the town centre.
The new campus will feature school car parking for 194 vehicles, 19 spaces for the dental surgery, 15 for the college, 87 for the swimming pool and 120 covered cycle stands.
Councillors heard that Scottish Natural Heritage did not consider the proposed footpath and 427ft bridge would have an adverse impact on wildlife at the Ythan Estuary.
The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) is providing about two thirds of the funding for the project.
Planning permission was granted subject to several conditions, including further consultation with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Transport Scotland.
Work is due to begin next year with the opening of the new academy scheduled for August, 2015.
The area committee made its recommendation in favour of the project earlier this year and aspects of the scheme were then discussed by other council committees.
Statutory consultation on the relocation proposals was carried out with parents, pupils, staff and the wider Ellon community. The consultation period ran from September 5 last year through until October 28.