REVISED plans for the re-locating of Saddleworth School to Diggle have found to be flawed due to flooding concerns.
The Environment Agency, one of the key consultees in the planning process, has recommended refusal due to the absence of an acceptable flood risk assessment (FRA) for the WH Shaw Pallets site on Huddersfield Road.
Read more here and below are the responses from various groups and community members.
EA objections will be overcome say campaigners
NEWS of another potential delay in the building of a new secondary school for Saddleworth has angered community groups backing the development of the Diggle site.
Commenting on the Environment Agency’s intervention, a spokesperson for Diggle for Saddleworth School4SS said: “The letter was received by the council over two months ago.
“We are assured that this is being sorted and all relevant documents are being updated.
“A flood strategy is a normal part of the Environmental Statement in any planning application near water.
“The EA have disagreed with some of the maths which isn’t unusual as the numbers can be very subjective and this happens with many planning applications.
“At the bottom of the letter, it states ‘You can overcome our objection by submitting an FRA which covers the deficiencies’.
“This is exactly what WYG, who are managing the planning application work, are doing.
“The application typically amends the detailed design until the EA are happy to sign it off.
“We sincerely hope that, with SDAG’s supportive action of the EA, that once the design and Flood Risk Assessment are signed off, that SDAG will then support the application going forward.”
Saddleworth Parents’ group spokesperson Thirza Dixon said: “There was a small handful of people arguing for the Uppermill site.
“However, let’s be clear, the planning applications are all about a new school in Diggle.
“They all reference Diggle. The EFSA have completed all the paperwork and reports for Diggle. The new school applications submitted for Planning approval are for Diggle.
“Controversially, OMBC allowed an extended period to gather full and extensive public comment on the planning applications. Thousands of Saddleworth people have shown support for the new school.
“Saddleworth Parents maintain our original position. We want a new Saddleworth School.
“We want our local children to have a safe, functional school building of the 21st century.
“We want to stop this ridiculous delay and give our Saddleworth children the best educational start possible.”
Time for public meeting to debate new school siting say remain supporters
REMAIN supporters accuse Oldham Council bosses and education chiefs of “burying their heads in the sand” over refusal to contemplate building the new Saddleworth School in Uppermill.
Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) claim local politicians and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, Debbie Abrahams, have failed to respond to calls for a public meeting.
Now, SDAG group spokesman and Saddleworth Parish Councillor, Keith Lucas says: “The issues at the Diggle site have been persistently downplayed by the Council – but are becoming more and more difficult to ignore.
“Now is the time to review this decision and to include the com-munity in public debate.”
Cllr Lucas says news of the Environment Agency’s concerns, raised with Oldham Council in correspondence dated December 5, 2017, only came to light after a Freedom of Information request.
He added: “OMBC Planning ignored a similar request asking for details although received in December, OMBC have failed to make these available to the public.
“The unresolved issues, to do with increased flood risk, on which the EA have objected, have been brought to the Council’s attention again and again by objectors but persistently ignored.”
The Independent asked OMBC for a statement on the EA findings. A spokesperson said: “We don’t usually comment whilst we are considering planning applications as it could be seen to prejudice the decision that is taken.”
Mr Lucas added: “Even after the Judicial Review hearing, where the same issue was aired and acknowledged as a flaw, nothing was done to address it.
“The Council and ESFA appear to be burying their heads in the sand about the issues at Diggle instead of facing them and reviewing the rationale behind this site choice.
“Not one local politician or our MP has had the decency or seen it as their democratic duty to respond to requests for a public meeting or acknowledge the fact there are major flaws in the Saddleworth School Planning application that are not being addressed openly or publicly.
“As a local councillor, I will be asking Saddleworth Parish Council Chair and Vice Chair to put to Full Council the opportunity for a public meeting to be widely publicised and held, so that Saddleworth residents can discuss the serious problems that will face its local community, environment and infrastructure, should the school still move to Diggle.”
Don’t delay school any more urges former head boy
JOE Wheeler, a former Saddleworth School head boy, has again appealed to objectors not to delay plans to build a new £19.2 million base in Diggle.
The 17-year-old is an outspoken advocate of Saddleworth School moving to a new site at Diggle which has been mired in controversy and legal wrangles for years.
Now a student at Oldham Bluecoat sixth form studying psychology, business and politics, Joe said: “We are on the verge of revolutionising the quality of education in our local area.
“We have fought for years now to get this school built and hopefully in the next few weeks the planning application will be reviewed by the Council.
“If the application is successful, sadly Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) may choose to go down another delaying route.
“I am pleading to them on behalf of all those in favour of a new school NOT to do this.
“To delay the new school would be further damaging to the quality of education for thousands of students and could add years onto the new school.
“If they care about the education of children in Saddleworth, allow the professionals to do their job in getting this school built!”
Joe, a member of Saddleworth Youth Committee, added: “I understand Saddleworth School has been ranked as the second worst physical condition of a school building in the UK.
“More unnecessary delays on a building that a majority of Saddleworth residents have spoken out in favour of as shown on the comments on the planning application, on Saddleworth Parents social media channels and on the Stop the Delay petition will not change opinion.”