At last night’s extraordinary planning meeting Oldham’s Councillors voted unanimously to approve plans to build a new Saddleworth School in Diggle.
Four planning applications, presented to the Planning Committee by Steven Irvine, Head of Planning for Oldham, were examined and all but the highways application, with one against, were passed unanimously.
It was suggested by the Diggle Community Association Chairman, Mark Brooks, who spoke against the applications, that the applications were unlawful. The chair ruled against this on advice from the borough solicitor.
Mr Brooks, a parent of children at Saddleworth School, addressed the committee and audience as an objector to each of the applications. He said, “Over the last three years this Council has ignored repeated public expressions of serious concern and opposition to the scheme.
“The Planning Officer’s perverse report asserts the numerous harms associated with the Diggle proposal are ‘outweighed by the benefits it will bring’ – poppycock!
“All these benefits can also be achieved on the Uppermill site, without any of the associated harmful impacts.” He added: “We are fully prepared and very well equipped to continue the fight to oppose this destructive and ill-considered proposal.”
Following the meeting, Saddleworth Parish Cllr Keith Lucas said, “This is the end of the beginning. We are working closely with our solicitors at Irwin and Mitchell and will take their advice on what our next step is.
“The outcome was inevitable. We didn’t expect anything else. If we can take it to judicial review we will.”
Matthew Milburn, headmaster of Saddleworth School, highlighted the benefits of the new school for 1,500 pupils as he spoke in favour of the new school application. He said, “It is so much more than just a building. It is an asset for the community of Saddleworth.
“We want to be good neighbours. The impacts will be monitored when the school is fully functional. The school has been waiting eight years for a new school. This is the best site and the best scheme possible so we can provide the best education for children for generations to come.”