Plans for a new free school in Barnstaple have been revealed this week. Newport Community School Primary Academy is looking to submit an application to the Department for Education for a 420-place primary school with a nursery, either at Larkbear or Tews Lane at Roundswell. If the bid is approved by the Department for Education, it is hoped the new school would open in 2018\/19. The plan is being developed by the school to support the new housing developments planned for the area and address a growing need in the town for more primary school places. Newport head teacher Andy Cotton told the Gazette that a new school was an absolute necessity. It is a provision that is needed, he said. Schools are finding it very challenging now as more and more houses go up; there are not that many places left. Mr Cotton said the school was looking to provide a local solution to the problem. We were aware there were proposals on the table for new schools in the area and we looked long and hard at what we could offer, he said. We looked at our capacity to support another school and feel this is definitely the right time to explore what we can do for the community. Free schools are the only way of setting up a new school now a free school is essentially an academy. We are a local school and we want to find a local solution for local families. We are keen to provide a local solution to provide high quality education. Outline plans for 350 new homes and a primary school at Tews Lane were passed in May 2013. Plans for up to 820 new homes and primary school were approved by North Devon council in October the same year. Mr Cotton said a decision on the new schools location would ultimately be decided by the local authority. Both sites look really interesting, he said. They have large housing developments planned and you could make a good argument for both sites. But if our bid is successful and central government decides to fund it, the local authority will decides where the school goes. If it does come to fruition, it will be a very exciting opportunity for the school, the parents and the community. Newport would work in a multi-academy trust with the proposed new school and staff would be employed to work across both schools. The school is looking to submit its bid before March 2. A series of public meetings is being held this week to give people more information about what is being proposed. They take place at Newport school tomorrow (Thursday) at 7pm and on Friday at 9am; and at Roundswell Community Centre tomorrow at 5pm and Friday at 2pm. Anyone wishing to respond to the consultation can do so before February 22.