Stephen Irvine, Head of Planning and Infrastructure at Oldham Council, struggled, last night, to answer questions posed by Saddleworth residents relating to proposals to build a new Saddleworth School in Diggle.
The meeting organised by Saddleworth Parish Council and attended by over two hundred residents examined, through a question and answer session, the four planning proposals due to be presented to Oldham Borough Council on the 25th February.
- PA/337301/15: Construction of a new Saddleworth School (for ages 11 to 16) with associated sports fields and pitches, external recreation and teaching space together with parking landscaping and associated works.
- PA/337931/15: Demolition of 5 buildings.
- LB/337929/15: Demolition of the link bridge connected to the listed office building.
- PA/337930/15: New car park drop-off facility, residents’ parking area and associated highway works.
Following a clear presentation of the proposals by Stephen Irvine residents were given the opportunity to ask questions. Although Mr Irvine dealt competently with those relating to heritage and the school building, he struggled to deal with issues relating to highways, health and safety and flooding because, at his own admission, this was beyond his expertise.
This limited ability to respond by Stephen Irvine begs the question: Why were flooding and highways engineers not at the meeting? As a result, many key questions were left unanswered and deferred until Mr Irvine could consult his engineers directly. In defence of Mr Irvine’s difficult position, he has promised answers to unanswered questions and will forward them on to the Parish Council for publication on their website.
Mr Irvine said that positives and negatives would be weighed against each other and he acknowledged that, to-date, negatives relating to pick-up and drop-off of children, safety on footpaths, flooding, sustainable transport and the future use/management of the clock tower had not been satisfactorily dealt with.
Cllr Keith Lucas, spokesperson for the Save Diggle Action Group, said, ‘I’m really pleased Steven Irvine met with the public and gave them an opportunity to ask questions directly. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t accompanied by colleagues who could deal with questions falling outside his expertise.’
Based on Stephen Irvine’s admission that answers to several major issues have not, as yet, been found, the building of a new Saddleworth School in Diggle continues to be some way from being ‘a done deal’.
If residents want to comment in writing, the statutory consultation date, for the above planning applications, has been extended to the 31st January 2016 and Oldham Planning Department have said that objections can be sent in up to the 24th February 2016.
The Planning Officer will produce his report and recommendation to the Planning Committee about two weeks before the committee date, so to be sure that your objections are taken into account by the Planning Officer they will need to be received by 10th February 2016.
Letters should be sent to: Planning.Admin@oldham.gov.uk
or OMBC Planning, Planning Team, Oldham Council, Civic Centre, PO Box 30, West Street, Oldham OL1 1UQ
Further information is available at: http://www.oldham.gov.uk/new_saddleworth_school
Template objection letters are available at: http://www.savediggle.org.uk
A special meeting of the Oldham Council Planning Committee will be held just to decide these applications on Thursday 25th February 2016 at 6.00pm. The public are welcome to attend and observe proceedings.
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