Waiting game over new Saddleworth School decision

CAMPAIGNERS ARE anxiously awaiting the decision of the judicial review over the planning application for a new Saddleworth School in Diggle.

Saddleworth School at the current site in Uppermill

Oldham Council’s planning committee approved plans last April for a £19.2million secondary school to be built at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site for 1,500 pupils.

But Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) challenged the applications, claiming the Council overlooked important provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Royal Courts of Justice in London granted them a full judicial review against Oldham Council, which was held over two days at Manchester Civil Justice Centre in January.

A decision could take four to six weeks to be announced and if SDAG is successful the planning permission could be quashed.

Keith Lucas, spokesperson for SDAG, said: “This has been a public community campaign against a planning application that will seriously affect the way of life for Diggle and surrounding villages forever.

“We and our supporters submitted to OMBC the largest petition in the council’s history, had an independent opinion poll where 78 per cent asked for the school to stay in Uppermill and 1,332 letters of objection against the proposal to relocate the school in Diggle and only 26 letters in favour.”

He added: “We can’t predict the final outcome. It is a complex case and it would be rash to make a premature judgement.

“I’m proud of the way we have conducted this campaign. I’m proud of the intellectual rigour and research of the SDAG team that helped put the legal challenge together and of all the local people that helped.

“I’m proud of the local encouragement and goodwill from our supporters and the amazing way they stepped up with cash for us to mount our present legal challenge.

Saddleworth School sign smaller“Finally I’m proud an eminent environmental lawyer Robert McCracken QC, born and bred in Saddleworth, came to our legal assistance with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and worked so hard for all of Saddleworth to try and prevent this planning travesty.”

In June, parents and local residents launched D4SS ­ Diggle for Saddleworth School in support of the “expedient development” of the new school’s move to the village.

D4SS spokesman Keith Prior said: “D4SS are particularly concerned at the on-going delays in providing a new school for the children of Saddleworth.

“The actions of a small minority in delaying the building is deplorable and contemptuous and can only be harming the education for the current and future students.

“D4SS have been contacted by many people and parents who are very upset about the ongoing situation and asking D4SS to continue to fight for decent educational and community facilities for Saddleworth.

“D4SS continue to support a new school for Saddleworth on the proposed Diggle site which has been proved to be the best possible location for a fit for purpose school going forward.

“The outcome of the current Judicial Review does not affect our position of wanting the best school possible and we will continue to support that outcome.”

Oldham Council was asked for a comment but declined while the legal proceedings remain active.


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