Flooding downstream in Uppermill 2016 (Photo: ©StuartColeman)

The Environment Agency has recently recommended the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth school in Diggle be refused.

The Environment Agency (EA), in a recent statement, have informed Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council Planning that they will be objecting to the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth School in Diggle. They state that, “in the absence of an acceptable Flood Risk Assessment they will object to the grant of planning permission and recommend refusal.”

The EA felt the revised flood risk assessment did not comply with the requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework stating that, ” the submitted FRA fails to:

1.Take the impacts of climate change into account in setting finished floor levels, new climate change allowances have been published on 19th February 2016, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/flood-risk-assessments-climate-change-allowances for full details. The Environment Agency does not have updated flood levels with the revised climate change allowances. Finished floor level should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

2. Provide compensatory flood storage for the proposed ground raising, gabion walls and finished floor level. The development must not increase flood risk elsewhere. Floodplain compensation works should be based on the 1%AEP 35%cc levels as a minimum to ensure risk is not increased elsewhere as the impacts of climate change occur. As per your comment in section 4.13 of the FRA, we would recommend the use of the Oldham SFRA 1D/2D model to calculate floodplain compensatory storage, which must be provided level by level. A drawing should be provided detailing the design and location of proposed compensatory flood volumes.

3. Take into account the impact of climate change on the proposed replacement bridge. We note your comment in section 3.1.2 regarding replacement bridge. The soffit level (not the deck level) should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

4. Identify whether there is a loss of floodplain volume as a result of the proposed replacement bridge. Any loss of floodplain volume must be compensated for.”

WYG who submitted the FRA has been told they can overcome the objections raised if they are able to resubmit an FRA that, “covers the deficiencies highlighted [in the EA’s statement] and demonstrates that the development will not increase risk elsewhere and where possible reduce flood risk overall. If this cannot be achieved [the EA] are likely to maintain their objection to the application.

Cllr. Keith Lucas spokesperson for the Save Diggle Action Group said, ‘While I understand the frustration of parents and pupils in getting a new school for Saddleworth, what has never been acknowledged from a section of the community is the impact building the school in Diggle will have environmentally and infra-structurally on the quality of life for Diggle and its surrounding habitat and villages.

The unresolved issues, to do with increased flood risk, on which the EA have objected, have been brought to the council’s attention again and again by objectors but persistently ignored. Even after the Judicial Review hearing, where the same issue was aired and acknowledged as a flaw – nothing was done to address it. The Council and ESFA appear to be burying their heads in the sand about the issues at Diggle instead of facing them and reviewing the rationale behind this site choice.’

Diggle News contacted Oldham Council for more information but they were unavailable for comment.





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