stuart coleman landscape photograph diggle

WH Shaw Pallet Works, Diggle (Photo: Stuart Coleman©2015)

At Oldham Council’s cabinet meeting last night (30/3/15), the Shaw Pallet Works site in Diggle was approved as the location for the new Saddleworth Secondary School.

This approval follows the decision of the Education Funding Agency to choose the Diggle site as their preferred option in 2014 after dismissing three alternative locations – two on the existing Saddleworth School site and one at the front of the Diggle site.

The total amount available for the project, including money raised by the land swap, currently stands at around £19 million. Oldham Council have agreed to give all money raised by the land swap to the project. This is expected to be in the region of £2 million. The money will mainly be used to support local highway improvements, residents parking, an upgrade to the sports pitch and the cost of demolition works. Any funds remaining will be used to buy equipment for the new school.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton said: “This has been a long and hard but undoubtedly necessary road we had to go down. I don’t think anyone disputes that the current school is not fit for purpose for current or future pupils.

“The debate centered around the location and the feasibility study made a clear recommendation.

“We appreciate the depth of feeling this has created and we have listened to all concerns.

“We will work with the local community to make the school aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the area. Building a new school is an educational issue and the decision was made on what best suits the pupils.”

Keith Lucas, speaking on behalf of the Save Diggle Action Group said: “Contrary to these claims and reports, the decision of OMBC’s cabinet that their choice of site for the school is to be the ‘back-land’ at Diggle is not the end of the story. It is not inevitable that the school will be built there.

“OMBC will first have to secure planning permission for the highways works they will need to undertake (for which they seem to have no clear plans as yet).

Interserve, the Developer will also have to submit a very detailed planning application for the development of the Diggle site. SDAG, working with leading planning and environmental barrister Robert McCracken QC, will be scrutinising every aspect of the planning application. There are significant legal, environmental, ecological, transportation and infrastructure issues which, as their most recent report reveals, OMBC has not yet even considered. Securing planning for this project will not be straight forward.

“We will be holding OMBC and Interserve to account at every twist and turn of the planning process.

“We’ve been told again and again that ‘this is the end of SDAG’ or ‘it’s all a done deal, the school will be in Diggle now’ but we have never been distracted by these claims. This is not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning: our fight goes on.”

Mark Brooks, Chairman of the Diggle Community Association said: ” I believe that the decision is indicative of Oldham Council’s disastrous handling of the whole school issue. After virtual silence since the first public meeting in October 2013 a decision has now been made without any meaningful consultation with the very people it will detrimentally effect.

“I find it incredible that such a decision could be made without even the basics of a travel plan or infrastructure change being shared with the community, a community that  will be left to pick up the pieces when it all goes wrong.

“It’s no wonder that people are angry. A chasm of distrust and animosity is growing rapidly in the village. My concern is this will only deepen as this ill conceived debacle continues.”

Councillor Nikki Kirkham, speaking on behalf of the Saddleworth Independents said: “The cabinet decision was predictable, it was a formality that the council felt they had to go through because of the lack of consultation that has taken place to date on the school site.

“It was nevertheless a disappointment and a slap in the face for the thousands of Saddleworth people who have made their views very clear that they want the school to remain in Uppermill. No-one can now doubt that none of the major political parties are interested in listening to the views of the people they purport to represent.”

The post Diggle Site Approved by Cabinet appeared first on Diggle News.



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This