AN APPLICATION for a brand new Greenfield Primary School is on hold as Oldham Council revisits its plans for the provision of primary school places in the area.
The move is being taken after a review of the process found there had not been a sufficient level of consultation with all local primary schools in Saddleworth and Lees.
Over the last two years the local authority has been investing as part of its response to the unprecedented rise in the number of children needing primary school places.
Existing plans for Saddleworth and Lees must now be reconsidered – meaning a recent planning application for a new Greenfield Primary has been placed ‘on hold’ and withdrawn.
There is no suggestion plans in other districts – which include a new three form-entry primary school for Oldham, plus the expansion of places in Failsworth, Hollinwood, and Chadderton – are in question.
Mike Wood, headteacher at Greenfield Primary School, said: “We are obviously disappointed at this news but we fully understand the reasons behind it that have been explained to us.”
“We must simply look forward now and focus on working with Oldham Council to resolve these matters as soon as possible.”
Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “As Oldham’s population continues to rise we’ve been working hard with schools to avoid any future shortfall in places.
“However, having audited and reviewed the plans for the Saddleworth and Lees area we are not satisfied with the process undertaken to date.
“We must address the need for additional primary school spaces in the area but we must also do it in a legally sound and fair manner.
“I must stress this news doesn’t mean any children in that area will not get a primary school place in 2017/8 – it will simply mean we won’t have as many spare places as we expected to have by that time.
“I am particularly sorry for the Greenfield Primary School community that we’ve had to put their plans on hold for now as part of this review.
“While this development is frustrating, what is vitally important is that we do the right thing now and act to ensure there are no potential challenges and unnecessary future delays.
“Our next steps will be to consult all primary schools and affected parties in the area looking at their expansion needs and the suitability of sites.
“A full report setting out the findings will then go back to Cabinet later this year and those options will, of course, include the Greenfield expansion plans already on the table.”
Nearby resident Mike Rooke said: “I’m delighted to hear our concerns have been taken into account and that proper consultations will now be undertaken.
“It is our belief all our children should receive the excellent education they deserve but the plans to build a new expanded school on a small playing field site down a cul de sac and via unadopted unsurfaced roads will sell our local children short and affect the social well-being of our neighbourhood.
“Parents and residents have seen how a decision in 2012 to increase intake numbers from 20 to 30 places has meant that the present school site is now grossly overcrowded.
“Any decision to alleviate this problem should be based on a commitment to provide the very best possible space and learning facilities for our children and future generations.”