Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) announced today that they are seeking a Judicial Review to stop the building of a new Saddleworth School in Diggle.
The group have, since failing to stop four planning applications from being passed by Oldham Council on 13th April 2016, been focused on raising funds to mount a legal challenge against the applications.
Cllr Keith Lucas, spokesperson for the group, has over the last fourteen days, with donations from people opposed to the building of the school in Diggle, raised over £30,000. “This show of support, he says, by residents in Saddleworth confims to us that our challenge is justified.
He added, “On 13 April Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council decided, once again, to ignore the views of the Saddleworth community. More than that, it chose to ignore its responsibilities as a planning authority and passed a scheme to build a new secondary school, in a wholly inappropriate location and without being able to demonstrate that it has secured safe or adequate highways infrastructure to support the project. In passing the application for the school in Diggle the Council failed to recognise its duty to prevent harm to a listed building, the greenbelt and rare wildlife protected by law.
“SDAG is now seeking Judicial Review in order to prevent what would be a catastrophic outcome for Saddleworth. We have always said we need a new school for Saddleworth; many of our supporters are the parents of children who are, or will be, attending this school. We are as angry and frustrated as everyone else that, because of the Council’s intransigence, we are still waiting for a new school, an alternative site exists, on which a new school could have been built by now: in Uppermill on the playing fields to the rear of the current school site. The Education Funding Agency said in 2014, that this was a viable site, it was OMBC who rejected it in favour of a land-swop worth £2.5 million.
“If the school is built in Diggle traffic congestion, dangerous tail-backs on to Standedge Road and a situation where children have to cross in front of traffic entering and leaving a busy drop-off and car-park will be the result. Narrow lanes out of Diggle and the centre of Dobcross will become ‘rat-runs’ for traffic seeking ways around the bottle-neck the Council have designed at the entrance to the village. Neither OMBC nor the contractors tasked with delivering the highways scheme for the new school have any clear idea of how these proposals could be made to work. We have to prevent this chaotic situation from blighting our villages.
“SDAG has therefore been forced to take legal action to prevent these damaging, destructive and dangerous proposals. We are a group of ordinary people and to take this step we have had to ask for financial support from the community. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the community but, even more, by their commitment to fight on and support our legal battle. If a Judge rules in our favour, OMBC will be forced to refuse the application to build in Diggle and apply to build the school where it should always have been, in Uppermill.”
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