On Monday evening at an extraordinary meeting organised by Saddleworth Parish Council a decision was made to write a letter to Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (OMBC) asking them reconsider their plans and consider an alternative proposal to develop the current Saddleworth School site in Uppermill.
Councillor Mike Buckley presented the proposal to the Parish Council showing, via a series of slides, how, in his opinion, this could be achieved. He said: “There is strong feeling in Saddleworth that the new school should be rebuilt on the existing site in Uppermill. We have produced a number of schemes and proposals of how this might be achieved with a minimum of disruption to school activities and at reasonable cost, possibly less than the cost of preparing a suitable site in Diggle.”
Three Parish Councillors questioned the validity of Councillor Buckley’s proposal and pointed out that the Diggle proposal is the only one currently being considered by OMBC. They went on to point out that not supporting the Diggle proposal could result in Saddleworth not getting a new school.
At the start of the meeting, members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask the council questions. All of those who spoke raised concerns about the proposed scheme for Diggle.
The Parish Council have agreed to write a letter to OMBC, regarding Cllr Buckley’s proposals, asking Cllr McMahon, Cllr Chadderton and Council officers whether they are workable or not? Cllr Buckley said: “As time scales are short, it would be useful to hold this meeting very soon.”
Below is SDAG’s summary of the proposed scheme for rebuilding the school on the existing Uppermill site.
Area of the Site
Area of the existing school site 11.5 acres. 8.75 acres is usable – this includes the playing fields and bus turnaround. The usable area of the proposed Diggle site 7.75 acres, including playing fields and bus turn round. For comparison the area of the Waterhead Academy, including playing fields 6.47 acres. So in principle the existing site is plenty big enough to accommodate the new school.
Proposal is to site the new school at the rear of the site. If the school is built on two levels (two storey at the rear and three storey at the front) as is proposed at Diggle, the site can be used without any alteraion to existing levels. However if this is not desirable and a three storey building is required the football pitch can be lowered by 3 metres to the 178m contour. This will reduce the perceived height of a three storey block and make for a much better relationship within the site. It also considerably increases the available site and gives plenty of working space. We have taken a typical design for 1200 pupils from the EFA website, and increased it by 20% to allow for 1500 pupils. The E shape favoured at present by the School can also be fitted on the site.
Building the New School alongside the Existing School
One block would be demolished (the most northerly on the site) to enable the new access road to be constructed. This would require the relocation of 6-8 classrooms in temporary accommodation until the new built was complete. After the building is completed the school can be moved into the new building and the rest of the buildings on site demolished to allow the construction of new playing fields.
One option is to retain and renovate the existing sports hall (built in 1980’s/early 1990’s), this would enable the money saved to be spent on improving facilities in the main school block. This could be upwards of upwards of £1,000,000
Health and Safety
The construction site would be screened off from the rest of the school site during construction. Care would be needed however in the use of the existing vehicular access to the school site during the construction period. Pedestrians should be required to use other entrances to the site.
There are 102 car parking spaces on the existing site which will be unaffected by the proposals (there are actually more). The proposed Diggle site shows 97 car spaces. 9 car spaces on the drive would have to go temporarily during the construction period, but there are considerably more than 9 spaces elsewhere on the site, which will ultimately be moved to make way for the new playing field arrangements. At no time will there be fewer car spaces on the site than are proposed for Diggle.
The existing driveway has an average gradient of 1 in 11.5. By comparison Huddersfield Road up to Austerlands is 1 in 12 and Lydgate is about 1 in 14. The proposed construction access will be 1 in 12 if it is taken from the back of the existing car park immediately on the left, and it will be 1 in 20 if it goes from the front of the car park (assuming 178 build level).
The proposal shown for the construction access will involve the relocation of about 6 classrooms on a temporary basis. These could go on the hard surface court adjacent to the all weather pitch.
The identified costs, over and above the building of the new school and reinstatement of the playing fields (which it is understood will be borne by the EFA), are shown below.
Temporary Accommodation ~ £140,000, but in reality could be less.
The cost for lowering the site to the 178m contour and constructing the new road is ~ £200,000
The cost of demolition of the school after construction of the new one is ~ £150,000.
Possible retaining wall at the rear of the site ~ £80.000, this would be less if gabions were used.
Total ~ £570K
Existing all-weather pitch retained. New pitch is the same size as that proposed at Diggle. The other sports pitches shown are as Waterhead Academy sizes.
The new recreational facilities will all be constructed on a site which will be level, unlike the proposals for Diggle, so the cost of providing the pitches will be considerably less.
The proposal above is a workable scheme. However, more detailed information about the site and the operational needs of the school is required to produce a detailed plan. The proposed scheme has been done on the basis of OS plans, as we haven’t been given any drawings of the school, or seen the business plan. With more information, a better operational solution and one that has been more accurately costed can be achieved.