A NEW school for Greenfield has received unanimous support… but not current re-development plans for century-old Shaw Street primary.
Instead, Oldham Council is urged to consider an alternative site occupied by the Satellite Centre on Wellington Road and currently owned by OMBC.
Under present proposals Greenfield Primary will be demolished and a two-storey school, to double the capacity from 210 to 420 pupils plus the introduction of 40 extra nursery places, will be built on the school fields.
A new recreation area, including provision for a 60-metre running track, will be put down on the existing school footprint.
However, November’s Saddleworth Parish Council planning meeting rejected the plans with a vote of eight to one.
Saddleworth West and Lees councillor Stephen Hewitt was the only member to vote for the plans as presented to the public for recent consultation.
Colleague Neil Allsopp, a Greenfield ward councillor, proposed an “urgent” look at an option mentioned in the planning brief to re-locate the school to Wellington Road on the edge of Churchill Playing Fields.
“Everyone is agreed we need a new Greenfield Primary School,” he said. “The problem is where.
“Chew Valley Road, at its junctions with Shaw Street, Greenbridge Lane and Arthurs Lane, is dangerous.
“The new school will exacerbate this and turn dangerous into very dangerous.”
Cllr Allsopp added: “Wellington Road is a cul de sac, the same as Shaw Street. But the major difference, from a traffic perspective, is it is five times longer and slightly wider.
“The report suggests there would be a high risk of flooding from the nearby River Tame. That is absolutely incorrect.
“The 2017 Environment Agency flood plan reveals the Satellite Centre is at no greater risk than Tesco’s or the Kingfisher pub.”
“Any minor difficulties the option throws up can be solved. I believe it is a much better answer; much safer.”
Another Greenfield Councillor Jamie Curley said: “Everyone is one in accord – we need a new school.
“My worry is the traffic issue hasn’t been properly addressed. Chew Valley Road is busy all the time and increasingly so.
“There hasn’t been an accident yet but I am sure that day is coming.”
Oldham Council is expected to make a final decision in January 2018 on proposals initially announced in December 2015.
Speaking in support of the plans, parent governor Dr Natalie Milner urged objectors to “look beyond what suits them personally, specifically those who live very close to the development, and think about future generations who will benefit from this new build”.
She added: “I don’t want to see a long, drawn-out process akin to Saddleworth School where only the people missing out are the children – the heart of our community.
“As Greenfield is centrally located within Saddleworth the proposed increase in school provision will ensure sufficient capacity is available to meet the demands of the Saddleworth and wider population.
“It doesn’t mean there is insufficient demand locally but is reflected in the admissions process and the ability of parents to choose a school that suits their needs.
“Demand will continue to grow over the coming years as the continued housing development takes place.
“The existing school was designed for much smaller class sizes yet some class sizes already exceed the legal limit of 30 children.
“Toilet facilities are inadequate, with only two toilets between 90 children in the infants.
“The roof is leaking, the hall is far too small, the kitchen is too small and there is no single sex changing facilities, with some pupils expected to get changed in classroom.”
“I do feel the community should put the children at the heart of this. Will they be worse or better off with the new school? I believe the children will be far better off.”
Speaking against the current proposals Dr Andrew Taylor, chairman of the Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents’ Association, said: “GGRA is in favour of a new school but not as presented in this application.
“We need a replacement school not an extended one. There are serious and fundamental flaws in the presentation of both the educational submission and the planning statement. Reasons in caveats are not as stated.
“The increase in local pupil numbers as suggested goes against recent demographic information for Saddleworth, both current and future.
“Local well-qualified education experts are clear that the proposed school falls well below standards for space per pupil, both indoors and outdoors.
“This would preclude space related improvements in education.
“A new primary school in Greenfield should have more space, not less.”
Dr Joan Harthan, another opposed to the development in its current form, added: “The number of primary school children in Saddleworth has not gone up for 30 years, despite all the housing development.
“So, the new school is to accommodate children from outside the area.
“The traffic report estimates there will be 142 cars dropping off and picking up twice a day. Currently there are about 40 cars.
“This figure is horrendous enough but a more realistic estimate is that 300 cars will be dropping off and picking up twice a day. You will have a cauldron of unmanageable chaos and danger.
“It’s said an air quality assessment is not required yet we have reliable information this has been done and the data collected from around the existing school is already dangerously high and is far in excess of EU guidelines
“That’s what it is like now. What’s it is going to be like with increased traffic?
“No one is objecting to a new school on the proposed site but it should be for local children.”