CAMPAIGNERS BATTLING to keep a new £19.2 million secondary school out of Diggle have been granted the right to proceed to a full judicial review.
Campaigners from Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) took their case to the Royal Courts of Justice in London to put their case before the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE.
It was round one of SDAG’s legal opposition to the building of the new Saddleworth School on a site off Huddersfield Road, Diggle.
The group’s lawyer, Robert McCracken QC, presented their case while Oldham Council’s lawyer argued against appeal in a hearing which lasted more than three hours.
Keith Lucas, of SDAG, said: “The case has now reached a verdict and we have won this stage of our legal battle.
“SDAG have been granted the right from the Rt Hon Justice Lang at the Royal Courts of Justice today to proceed to a full judicial review.
“Oldham Council employed a leading silk to defend today’s hearing but the court found in our favour. This is a well-earned victory.
“I can only add how proud I am of the fellow SDAG committee team for preparing such a strong argument for our fantastic legal team, Alastair Wallace of Irwin Mitchell, and our brilliant QC Robert McCracken.
“It goes without saying that none of this could have happened without the loyal support financially and morally of all of our supporters.”
Oldham Council’s Planning Committee originally approved proposals for a new school and related highways developments at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site on Huddersfield Road on February 25.
However, just hours before the meeting, the council received a letter from objectors who claimed not enough importance had been given to the impact on listed buildings at the site and that the council would be acting “unlawfully” if the plans were passed.
Following legal advice, the council reconsidered the plans at a second planning meeting on April 13 and the proposals were again given the go-ahead.
In June, parents and local residents launched D4SS - Diggle for Saddleworth School - in support of the “expedient development” of the new school’s move to the village.
D4SS spokesman Keith Prior said: “D4SS are extremely saddened at this outcome that will only further delay the children of Saddleworth being provided with a decent school.
“It is of particular regret that there are no winners with this decision, only losers. Those losers are the children of Saddleworth who will again be denied the chance of being educated at a school with top quality educational, sporting and community facilities.
“We sincerely hope Oldham Council will continue to fight for the school to be placed in Diggle as it is clear this is without doubt the best available site that meets the needs of the children of Saddleworth.”
Oldham Council was asked for a response but said as legal proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.