The principal of Whitehouse Primary School has spoken of his delight after the Education Minister gave the green light for a new £3.6million building.
Caitríona Ruane announced the go-ahead on Friday following weeks of campaigning by staff, parents, pupils and the community. Work is due to start within weeks.
The Newtownabbey school was burned to the ground last July and the minister was strongly criticised after she suspended plans for a new build as part of a review of all school capital building projects.
Principal David McConkey said: “We are absolutely delighted that this decision has been taken.
“The work should be starting soon so hopefully we will be in the new school building for the 2011/2012 term.
“We are very grateful to Newtownabbey High School for allowing us to use their facilities.
“The kids may have thought this was a dream that we would get a new school but this announcement has changed all that.
“I would like to pay tribute to all those who have campaigned for the school — the school community, the parents, the community itself and the politicians.”
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: “The principal Mr McConkey, his staff, parents and children deserve to have this good news. It was extremely disappointing that the decision was delayed by the Department of Education but I am glad that common sense has now prevailed.
“Since September the school has been sharing with Newtownabbey Community High School which must be congratulated for the way in which it has worked to help the primary school.
“It is to the credit of everyone who joined in the campaign through letters, emails, meetings and protests that this day has finally arrived. Whitehouse Primary School is an excellent school which has grown in numbers of pupils. It will continue to go from strength to strength under excellent leadership and in appropriate excellent new school premises.”
Newtownabbey Alliance Councillor Billy Webb said: “This news is long overdue and is a massive boost to children, parents and teachers alike.
“People have had to wait a long time for this news but now all the excellent campaigning has delivered results. This is a great victory for all those who have worked so hard to ensure Whitehouse Primary School gets its voice heard. This news shows that people power works and it’s a real boost to the whole community.”