A SPECIAL meeting will be held next month to consider all four applications relating to the proposed new £19.2 million Saddleworth School in Diggle.
Oldham Council’s Planning Committee has called the ‘extraordinary’ meeting to consider the matters in the Council Chambers on Thursday, February 25 at 6pm.
Three separate and one revised planning applications were all submitted on December 21 – triggering a statutory 21-day public consultation that ended on January 13.
Now, because of the confirmed Committee date, it has been decided the deadline for the public to submit comments on the applications has been extended until Sunday, January 31.
The cross-party Planning Committee members will consider the applications which are to build the new school on the WH Shaw Pallets site and demolish existing buildings on the WH Shaw pallet works, excluding the listed building.
The plans also look to demolish the link bridge attached to the Grade II listed building on the WH Shaw site and provide a parental drop off area plus residential car parking as part of the wider highways scheme in Diggle.
Councillor Dave Hibbert, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Transport, said: “We understand these applications are complex and have attracted a lot of public interest.
“It is good common sense to deal with them all together at a special ‘one-off’ meeting of the Planning Committee.
“This will allow members the proper attention, time and focus to deal with these matters.
“In line with normal procedures for the planning committee, the four applications will be heard separately with a vote taken at the end of the discussion on each.
“That will enable the committee to hear from one speaker for and one against each application. Speakers will get three minutes each to put their case before committee members then publicly debate and cast their votes.
“As usual, members of the public can attend to observe proceedings and there is no need to book or signal your intention to attend this meeting beforehand.”
Saddleworth Parish Councillor Keith Lucas welcomed the extension to the deadline after previously raising concerns about the 21-day public consultation being held over the Christmas period.
He said: “That’s great news for the public and our local democracy. It’s been a confusing and disjointed original 21-day public consultation.
“This offer from Cllr David Hibbert, OMBC Cabinet Head for Planning, and his planning department to extend the public consultation period is very welcome.
“As a Parish Councillor and spokesman for the Save Diggle Action Group I will aim to make as many people as possible aware of this opportunity to have their voice heard.”
Cllr Lucas added that the OMBC’s Consultation Portal will only accept comments of up to 100 characters on the applications and he has written to the council for an explanation.