New £17m plans have been drawn up to replace Carlisle’s flood-wrecked Newman Catholic School.

One year on from the crippling effects of Storm Desmond, The Cumberland News can reveal that the school will be built on a completely different, flood-proof site.

Negotiations are underway between Cumbria County Council and the landowner – and confidence is high that a deal will be completed soon.

The Carlisle secondary school was swamped by 7ft of water last December. It was the second time it had flooded in a decade.

Since then, the 600-plus pupils have been taught at the former Pennine Way Primary School site in Harraby. This school had just moved out of its old buildings to a new site.

The primary school shell was adapted to house its new older pupils and portable cabin classrooms were craned into the playground.

Arrangements have also been made for Newman’s pupils to use facilities at the former Harraby Community Centre.

Representatives of the Bishop and trustees of the Diocese of Lancaster have been in negotiation with Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and the Department for Education for the last year to build a new school, well away from the threat of floodwaters.

Work on the project could start early in the new year if it gets the go-ahead and the funding from central government.

Janice Beck, schools building consultant for the Diocese of Lancaster, said potential new sites for the school were identified in January and February and a preferred site and £17m cost of rebuilding was submitted to the education department earlier this year.

Some of that money will come from the school’s insurers, but the bulk will be funded by the government.

“In July the government agreed to fund a feasibility study on our preferred site to prove that it was do-able and get a broad estimate for the work,” she said. “We are now in the process of completing the study by mid-December to submit to the department. We would look for the new school to be operational by September 2019 at the latest.”

County council leader Stewart Young said negotiations were at a “delicate stage” and declined to reveal where the new school would be.

It is understood it would not be in the city centre.

Mr Young believes work on the site could start in the new year.

“We have not yet signed the land from the owner, but I’m as confident as I can be,” he said.

“There are a lot of negotiations going on with the government and John Stevenson (Carlisle MP) is involved.

“If all goes well, work could start on it early next year, though the pupils will still be in their temporary site for another two years. I’m positive about it. I do think it is going to happen, provided the government deliver on the funding, but there is no reason why it won’t.”

Bishop of Lancaster and chief Trustee for the Diocese, the Right Reverend Michael Campbell added: “The Diocese of Lancaster and its trustees are fully committed to the future of Catholic education in the city and a new school on a new site – well away from the flood zones – would help enormously to secure this vision going forward.”

Former Education secretary Nicky Morgan promised the school her full support when she visited the devastated classrooms in January.