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Oldham Council’s response to issues raised by Diggle Action Group

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Councillor Amanda Chadderton

(See the article below to read the statement made by the Diggle Action Group.)

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “Oldham Council met the EFA today to discuss progress on the Saddleworth School project.”

“The Save Diggle Action Group says the EFA confirmed that many schools in the Priority School Building Programme will be built on their original sites, often on existing playing fields, and that they have no objections to that happening. It also says the EFA has no objections to temporary accommodation being used where appropriate.

“This is absolutely correct. All that is theoretically possible, but not in the case of Saddleworth due to its layout, size and the costs of doing this.

“The EFA advised Oldham Council there is a finite budget for this scheme and they are committed to delivering the most cost efficient solution within this budget.

“Building on the existing site would require us to transport pupils to other sites on a daily basis for two years – potentially far away – and we would need to make changes to highways and utilities. The option of building a new school on the site with the finances available is not therefore considered the most cost effective solution.

“As part of this process the EFA requires Oldham Council to put forward a deliverable school site.

As promised at the recent public meeting, we continue to work in close partnership with the EFA to do this and will be issuing further information to consult Diggle residents very soon.

“Clearly there are issues, such as highways concerns, with the proposed site and we want to work actively with the local community to find the best solution.

“It’s also important to note that the proposed Diggle site is designated for industrial use. Green Belt land would only be used for sports facilities, which does not alter its current status.

“Saddleworth needs a new school. We must focus on the children and their education needs to find answers that work as best as they possibly can for all parties. 

“There’s no perfect solution here – planning is never simple. But future generations are depending on us all to unite and work together to find a way forward.”

 

The views expressed in comments relating to posts do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the editor.

Please leave a comment below.  It will help me, as editor of Diggle News, gauge public opinion.

12 comments to Oldham Council’s response to issues raised by Diggle Action Group

  • angry diggler

    In response to councillor Chadderton.
    The Diggle site (the front fields) are only designated for industrial use by the council in its unitary development plans.
    The fields have only ever been rented out and used for farming. Never have they been used for industrial purposes. So why are the listed as this? It’s only the council writing the rules on this.

    The council have been caught out. Plain and simple.

    Stop trying to take the residents of Diggle and saddleworth for fools.

    The current site is more than big enough to accommodate a new school being built.
    It’s far bigger than the 8 acres the council says it is.

  • C Edwards

    Oldham Council’s last capital strategy (2013 – 2017) talked about assessing the school’s financial resources and those of the local authority to gague how much each
    organisation could contribute on top of the funding from central government. Any idea what happened to that? Also says new school could be on current site.

    http://www.oldham.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/2696/capital_strategyprogramme_2013-17

  • Andrea Haworth

    The location is not the first issue that needs resolving. The “finite budget” is nowhere near enough to build a school that is fit for purpose anywhere.

  • Huddersfield Rd Didgle

    This is not just about a new school for Saddleworth. Jim McMahon admitted the Oldham housing demographic needed to chnage for the council to be more self sustainable. They are using the school site to build premium houses to change the housing demographic.

  • In response to Amanda Chadderton. Why would students need to decant to another school. The present playing fields area would be where the new school build could be started and Churchill Playings fields could be used for sports facilities until the new school is built. Anyway the idea that you can build a new school for £15 million is farcical. Look at the costs of new school builds in Oldham. Why is Saddleworth, maybe the most important demographic area in the sense of capital revenue for Oldham; that is higher rate payers, low crime and social costs, being so poorly treated by OMBC?

    We have many residents, well wishers and holiday makers that are alarmed that Oldham wants to build a school in the valley, and its growing by the hour. We will fight and fight for proper democratic accountability from OMBC. And urge anyone concerned in Saddleworth to stop the school being built at Diggle and help campaign for a proper assessment in why the present site is unsuitable for a new school. Its been a school site for generations of Saddleworth children lets make it a place that Saddleworth can be proud of for future generations.We have many residents, well wishers and holiday makers that are alarmed that Oldham wants to build a school in the valley, and its growing by the hour. We will fight and fight for proper democratic accountability from OMBC. And urge anyone concerned in Saddleworth to stop the school being built at Diggle and help campaign for a proper assessment in why the present site is unsuitable for a new school. Its been a school site for generations of Saddleworth children lets make it a place that Saddleworth can be proud of for future generations.

    I urgently ask anyone that is concerned with the lack of democratic accountability in OMBC’s haste to push this plan through to support SDAG. email us savediggleactiongroup@gmail.com check out the website http://www.savediggle.org.uk and Facebook site SDFAG.

  • Upset Diggler

    Why would you have to “transport pupils to other sites on a daily basis for two years”? You could use temporary accommodation on the playing fields, demolish the existing buildings and then rebuild on the existing site.

    Portakabin constructed a whole new temporary school for both Campsmount Technical College, Doncaster and Avon Valley School when their schools burnt down. This included setting up all the utilities and then reinstating the landscaping when the cabins were removed. See http://www.portakabin.co.uk/campsmount-technology-college.html and http://www.portakabin.co.uk/avon-valley-school.html

    Surely the extra money that OMBC and the School are going to have to find to redevelop the Diggle site for infrastructure, highway changes, transportation etc which is over and above the £15m from the EFA, would be better spent in hiring this temporary accommodation on the existing site.

    To me they look like fantastic classroom facilities.

  • Our initial investigations have indicated that it would not be necessary to transport pupils to another school during the rebuild on the existing site. Contractors access can be provided to the construction area. This would be partitioned off from the operational school site, thus addressing health and safety concerns. A minimum amount of demolition would be required to do this which would also require a minimum amount of temporary classroom accommodation to be provided on site.

    The site is large enough and compares favourably with the new academy sites in Oldham.

    We are now contacting the authorities to request a meeting to understand what they see as problems and to suggest ways round these. We will work positively with all parties to get the best deal for Saddleworth and our children whilst maintaining our open green fields.

    It is possible.

  • Dear Amanda,

    Diggle is not a deliverable site for a school of that size. Don’t be a sucker that has been sold a pup. Please listen to local opinion before being made to look a complete fool. Also, ask yourselves why the process has had such a lack of transparency.

  • We have now heard from the EFA that the 13.5 acres requirement is not a requirement at all, it is merely guidelines.

  • Anon

    I am very concerned about the proposed move of Saddleworth School to Diggle from Uppermill. I thought the original proposal was to knock the down the dis-used mill and build a new school on this site? I believe from what I have heard that this was dismissed due to the listed building of the town clock. Can they not renovate the town clock building for use of office staff of the school? The other rumour I have heard is that they want to build houses on this disused mill with the school next to this new housing on the green belt land next to the mill. The latter I strongly oppose to due to the fact that it will seriously damage our view (and potentially have a detrimental effect on the value of our house) and the overall look of this beautiful village and begs the question why they can’t build a new school on this site instead of housing? What I have been particularly annoyed about is the fact that the Headmaster of Saddleworth School has been publicly announcing during open/visits days that this is a done deal and will be ready in July 2015. Something that I find quite insulting to Diggle residents particularly those who live on Huddersfield Road and very inflammatory towards divided public opinion. Overall opinion from who I have spoken is the strong belief that this move should be opposed on the grounds of the restricted access the road provides at the entrance of Diggle. It is totally inadequate currently with the road being reduced to one lane due to parking and it will definitely not cope with an additional 1500 students arriving to school. If the school is to be built using unsympathetic buildings materials for the surroundings, and right upto the road as some have indicated then the knock on effect of parents parking on the road, blocking pavements and causing disruption to the entrance of Ambrose Crescent for example will be profound. It is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident on that stretch of road with the current use nevermind a massive secondary school arriving in our quiet and beautiful village. I am concerned that architectural plans will be similar to the Mossley Hollins site which is a real blight on the landscape and such a shame it is not sympathetic to the stunning backdrop it is in. How Mossley Hollins was approved is astounding and shows a complete lack of respect for the natural environment residents of Saddleworth are drawn to.

    I believe strongly that the only option is to renovate/rebuild on the site currently in use in Uppermill – the school has more than adequate space for the actual school, parking and sport fields and more importantly is hidden from view and has public transport links for children to utilise.

  • DCA Chairman

    Wether you are for or against proposals to build a new school, the issues relating to the the ‘pinch point’ at the entrance to Diggle have to be addressed. Adding to problems on this already grid-locked section of road is not acceptable. Drivers entering and leaving Diggle face queuing on a Daily basis and residents and pedestrians have to suffer pollution, noise and traffic. Currently there are c.2300 people in Diggle, a primary school, a nursery and two industrial sites. Add to this; a secondary school, twelve new hoses on Ward Lane and two opposite the chip shop, further development of the Pallet Works, and you begin to see the enormity of the problem.”

  • carol whittle

    Is it not possible to build on the present site`s all weather pitches? As councillor Buckley says there does look to be room to access —-in dividing the school drive , Knocking down the bungalow and Rosla buiding so that shuttering for health and safety reasons, would be able to be put in place.
    As a grandmother and Uppermill resident I am very concerned about the obvious safety issues of children using canal paths and narrow pavements if the school were to be built in Diggle and at a time when society is encouraging children to exercise and walk more we would be making it necessary for more children to travel by bus or car. For those children missing the bus or going to the doctor`s or dentist do we really think the bus company will increase the schedule—-only one an hour at present….and then ,……… when it snows…….?

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