WORK on a 'game-changing' school development in Summertown could be complete in 2019 after plans were approved.

Proposals for a new 980-seat hall, library and classrooms for St Edward's School were approved earlier this week and it is hoped construction will start in 2018 with part of it being ready the following year.

The existing school hall is going to be demolished and replaced by the new oval-shaped hall dubbed 'The Velodrome' which could also be opened up to the community.

The school's warden, Stephen Jones, said: "We are thrilled the project has been approved, the buildings will be a fantastic addition to the school and the educational experience we can offer.

"It's going to be an absolute game-changer for us.

"What we really need is more classrooms - we have had a temporary block in recent years."

It is hoped the first two phases - the teaching facility and library - will be finished ahead of the 2019-20 academic year.

But a start date for the school hall will depend on the outcome of a hunt for further funding.

The designs, described by Oxford Design Review Panel as 'High Quality', were amended to change some aspects of its stone facing after being submitted in July.

The changes in November also included reducing the size of the library and teaching building.

On Tuesday Oxford City Council's west area planning committee approved the plans.

In January the school will open a new music school in South Parade, which will be available for local schools and groups.

The school also owns North Wall Arts Centre, which has hosted touring theatre companies, musicians and other public events since 2006.

Mr Jones said this trend would continue in keeping with the school's philosophy.

He said: "We always want to share our facilities with the community and it's been one of the things I have focussed on since I became warden.

"We want to ensure St Edward's is seen as an Oxford and not just a school in Oxford."

The scheme would complete 'Simeon's Dream' - the masterplan vision set out by its first warden when it moved to the North Oxford site in 1873.

Residents in nearby Stratfield Road had objected to the plans because of their impact on surrounding properties and it being overdevelopment of the site.

But council planning officers said it was a 'significant improvement' on the old hall and resolved that it would not affect the street scene.