Judicial review victory for Save Diggle Action group over Saddleworth School move

CONTROVERSIAL £19 million plans to relocate a new Saddleworth School to Diggle have been derailed by the High Court.

The ruling sends Oldham Council back to the drawing board and is a stunning victory for the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG).

Oldham Council granted planning consent for the school’s move last year, despite strong objections from SDAG.

Keith Lucas, a Saddleworth Parish Councillor and Diggle resident, took the case to court on behalf of SDAG.

keith lucas2
Keith Lucas

Mr Justice Kerr today handed him victory when he ruled the Council’s decision unlawful.

Mr Lucas, SDAG spokesperson, said no proper consideration had been given to keeping the school on its current site in Uppermill.

The school’s relocation would involve demolition of a listed bridge in Diggle and would affect the setting of a nearby listed office building, he argued.

The council estimated that rebuilding the school in Uppermill would cost more than £20 million, exceeding a £19,259,834 maximum budget.

But the judge said members of the council’s planning committee had “never addressed” the potential harm to heritage assets.

He added: “The case for Uppermill to be preferred on heritage grounds has not yet been considered.

“I conclude that the plainly relevant question that was never addressed by members was whether it was worth incurring the additional financial, educational and construction burdens of keeping the Uppermill site, to avoid the substantial harm to the setting of the heritage asset.”

The court heard the council accepted that redeveloping the school on its existing site, whilst a more expensive option, would be “viable and affordable”.

Saddleworth School sign smallerIt also “now acknowledged” that moving the school to a disused industrial site in Diggle “would cause substantial damage to heritage assets”.

But the council, wearing its hat as local education authority, had earlier ruled out any possibility of keeping the school where it is.

As a result, the judge said planning committee members were “positively instructed to put the Uppermill site out of their minds”.

The planning permission was quashed and the council will now have to urgently reconsider the school’s future.


8 Replies to “Judicial review victory for Save Diggle Action group over Saddleworth School move”

  1. Only two out of the nine were upheld so the use of the word “victory” may be short lived. The council now have all the information they need to make this watertight. Personally think Lucas might have actually shot himself in the foot with this one. The school will be built.

  2. Not exactly a stunning victory, a rather biased report, the two upheld are actually quite minor and can hopefully overcome

  3. This is the identical press release written by SDAG themselves that also appears in the MEN Oldham page.
    It’s funny how it’s phrased as though it’s written by an independent journalist.
    It’s a shame that these articles can’t be impartial and tell both sides of the story.
    Biased news reporting is the worse than no news in my opinion.

  4. Stunning victory…aren’t you supposed to be Independent? You seemed to have missed out on some important information like the facts! Only 2 of the 9 were upheld. I think maybe when writing your ‘Headline’ News next time you leave it to the adults. Otherwise the majority of Saddleworth supporters will most definitely loose faith in their local reporters compared to the minority of opposers to the school build. I’d rather you not report in future than read such drivel from someone who obviously doesn’t want the future generations in a fit for purpose school. It’s obviously not what you know but who you know?

  5. What a terrible piece of ‘independent’ journalism. 2 out of 9 objections upheld = stunning? Try getting all sides of the argument like any independent reporter worth their salt should!!!

  6. Can the current school really stand for much longer? It’s sickening how this group of people see putting children’s education and safety as a victory. Let’s hope everyone gets behind the council to ensure the 2 out of 9 issues are solved and no more arguments can be made. The bridge and Tower are not an asset to Saddleworth, our children’s education and safety is. To the current staff and saddleworth pupils the majority of Saddleworth are not blocking this school, our support will now be stronger than ever to ensure you get the school you deserve.

  7. Lazy journalism – I expect you’ve copied a press release from the NIMBY’s of the Save Diggle Action Group who were given the judgement to their Judicial Review and issued a release out before anyone else could comment.
    For “stunning victory” why not replace with “irritating delay”. The losers are the children of Saddleworth who have been caught in this flack. SDAG would seem to think and declare they have a “victory” – what victory? i hope Mr Lucas is light of a few thousand pounds now and can reflect on the damage he and his friends are doing to our children.

  8. ” STUNNING VICTORY ?????? ” you cannot be serious .
    Keith Lucas and his 24 followers are anything but victorious . All they’ve achieved is a delay and waste of time , energy and money ! The children of Saddleworth all the time missing out on a building and surroundings fit for purpose .
    2 out of 9 items upheld at JR . Come on OMBC as quick as possible , let’s get this sorted .

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