No-thants! Home plans on wrong road, say Parish councillors

A TRAFFIC report in support of a 78-homes plan for Diggle will be amended after surveys put part of the village in Northamptonshire.

The housing estate proposals on the site of the former WH Shaw pallet works – adjacent to the new Saddleworth School – has since been unanimously recommended for refusal by Saddleworth Parish Council’s planning committee.

One councillor called it “a recipe for complete chaos.” Another said: “It was an accident waiting to happen.”

Diggle new homes, artist impression

However, the final decision for the £15 million scheme off Huddersfield Road rests with Oldham Council’s planning committee.

Parish Councillors, though, from all parties raised misgivings about the project.

Cllr Max Woodvine said: “Diggle has had an unfair share of development and is slowly but surely losing its village identity.

“The hundreds of houses that have been built in past decades are serviced by Huddersfield Road which I would say is at capacity. Infrastructure across Saddleworth can’t support mass development.”

Cllr Rob Knotts said he was also concerned by the extra volume of traffic for the homes in addition to the amount of vehicles coming in and out of the village for the new school.

“The road is not up to it,” he said. “There is also going to be a massive increase in population if you look at four people per house.

“Half of those will probably be school children so will the infrastructure for the primary school (Diggle School on Sam Road) cope with this extra demand?”

Cllr Barbara Beeley said: “My concern is using the school drive as an access point.

“Once the school moves to Diggle there won’t be any service buses for the children to use.“So, the number of school buses will increase to 10-12, twice a day. It just seems an accident waiting to happen.”

Cllr Pam Byrne added: “The amount of traffic on this particular part of the school drive shouldn’t be tolerated. As this application stands I could not vote for it.”

Cllr Kathryn Phillips said: “In Dobcross, there has been a lot of this negativity (about the development).

“The congestion and the traffic problems will be enormous. I recognise it is important to have sufficient housing in Oldham.

“But I don’t feel the use of this land is advantageous to either Saddleworth or Diggle. Combining this with a new school is a recipe for complete chaos.”

Cllr Linda Dawson said: “I am fine with the school but the worrying thing is all the traffic. Residents in Dobcross are worried how it will affect them.

“When this application came up I just thought it was some sort of joke. There is no way I can see we can cope with that.

“The school would be enough for now. I want to refuse this because I think it is dreadful.”

As part of the proposals, a 189-page transport assessment document was prepared by Manchester-based engineering design consultancy Hydrock.

Huddersfield Road junction, Diggle

However, a sharp-eyed reader contacted the Independent over an error under section 2 – traffic flows.

The report states: “A review of the traffic flow data identified that the following junctions were included within the surveys:
• A6/B645 Chelveston Road/
Kimbolton Road/Newton Road –
5 arm roundabout
• Chelveston Road/Newton
Lane – 3 arm priority
• Site Access – Chelveston Road/
Moulton College – 3 arm priority.
The locations are approximately more then 140 miles away from Diggle.

The reader said: “It is not clear what impact traffic flow in Northamptonshire will have on the Huddersfield Road, Diggle, but I believe the error is sufficiently large to require withdrawal of the report and rechecking of all calculations.”Hydrock technical director Sam Denby told the Independent: “I can confirm that you are correct – the introduction section of the document does not reference the correct road names.

“The key analysis section is however correct. We will update the report accordingly.”

Oldham Council has been approached for a comment.

Since a consultation earlier this year there have been 214 responses raising concerns, including over access and traffic levels on Huddersfield Road, concerns over capacity of local schools and the impact on views of the Grade Two listed Dobcross Works Office Building.

One objection lodged against the application on the OMBC council website stated: “The council must not support these plans which will bring misery to thousands of people already living in Diggle and the nightmare traffic problems that are already being experienced.”

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