A SURVEY is being carried out which could renew hopes of getting a desperately needed primary school for one of Hampshire's fastest growing communities.

Last July, Winchester City Council ended any immediate hopes of a second primary school for Whiteley by rubber-stamping a decision not to dispose of land at Meadowside Recreation Ground.

Community leaders have continued to press for a way to resurrect the scheme amid fears that residents might have to wait for as long as ten years for a new primary school.

Now Hampshire County Council leader Ken Thornber has agreed to a request from Fareham MP Mark Hoban, backed by county councillor Sean Woodward, to carry out a two month, £50,000 feasibility study and geotechnical survey on a site north of Whiteley.

Some have suggested the land, on countryside not earmarked for development, would be suitable for a new Church of England voluntary aided primary school.

The county council felt it was too remote to serve Whiteley and would be more expensive than the preferred Meadowside option.

If the survey reveals the site is a non-starter, Councillor Woodward hopes the city council will think again about Meadowside.

He said: "I am delighted the county council has agreed to go the extra mile for the people of Whiteley by commissioning this study, especially when their officers believe the site to be unsuitable for a number of perfectly valid reasons.

"It is unfortunate that Winchester City Council decided in July not to release land at Meadowside for a new school.

"One of the reasons for that decision appeared to be the existence of what they viewed as another suitable site. It is important that the other site is properly assessed and, if shown to be unsuitable, that Winchester City Council reconsiders its decision on the Meadowside site.

"Should they decide against Meadowside a final time, it is unlikely that Whiteley will achieve a new permanent primary school until, or unless, a significant expansion occurs of the settlement northwards after 2010.

"Cllr Thornber has made a wise decision which demonstrates the county council's commitment to providing a second primary school to serve Whiteley's children so that they do not need to travel long distances to schools out of the area."

A campaign group, Whiteley Action for Children's Education (ACE), is currently collecting letters from residents calling on the city council to reconsider releasing the land at Meadowside.