Plans showing how the current Education Funding Authority (EFA) design proposals for the Diggle site will fit on the mostly unusable football pitch on the current Uppermill site are now being considered by OMBC and the EFA.
Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) believes that the proposal to choose Diggle over Uppermill may have been based on the old BSF (Building Schools for the Future) design from 2008 rather than the new EFA design, and that it has not been reconsidered in the light of revised funding arrangements.
The attached proposals, loosely costed by a professional developer are identical in size and form and offer equivalent and in some parts better facilities to those proposed at Diggle. The school has been involved in aspects of the design and their requirements incorporated into the plans. The new plan recognises that the all-weather pitch and outdoor courts in Uppermill can be retained. Further savings may be made by refurbishing the existing sports hall (as has been done at Oldham academy North), as opposed to the larger cost of new facilities in Diggle.
In order to avoid excessive costs for contractor access, which was seen as a major problem with the Uppermill site, the new proposals involve a much cheaper route being taken which can be achieved by the temporary relocation of about 6 classrooms elsewhere on site. There will be no other disruption during construction. Most schools elsewhere in the country are rebuilt on existing sites, and the EFA fully supports this approach.
Cllr Mike Buckley of SDAG said "the plans have been professionally drawn up and costed. We are confident that with all the potential extra expense involved in building the school in Diggle, rather than using the existing infrastructure in Uppermill, our proposals will be less costly. A brand new, fit for purpose school, can be built in Uppermill, at the heart of Saddleworth entirely within the proposed budget of £17 million if the political and local will exists to achieve this."
Proposed Scheme for Rebuilding Saddleworth School on the Existing Uppermill Site (original version)
11th November 2013 presented to Saddleworth Parish Council
At the Special Meeting of the Saddleworth Parish Council on the 11th November 2013, it was decided that the following proposed scheme for the rebuilding of Saddleworth School on the existing site in Uppermill would be discussed with Oldham Council and the School.
Here are the letters that the Saddleworth Parish Council are sending to Councillor Jim McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council, Matthew Milburn, Head Teacher of Saddleworth School and Debbie Abrahams MP on the matter.
Area of the Site
Area of the existing school site is 11.5 acres, including everything, 8.75 acres is usable – this includes the playing fields and bus turnaround. The usable area of the proposed Diggle site is 7.75 acres, including playing fields and bus turnaround. For comparison the area of the Waterhead Academy, including playing fields is 6.47 acres. So in principle the existing site is plenty big enough to accommodate the new school.
The Proposal is to site the new school at the rear of the site. If the school is built on two levels (two storey at the rear and three storey at the front) as is proposed at Diggle, the site can be used without any alteration to existing levels (Plan 1).
However if this is not desirable and a three storey building is required the football pitch can be lowered by 3 metres to the 178m contour. This will reduce the perceived height of a three storey block and make for a much better relationship within the site. It also considerably increases the available site and gives plenty of working space. (Plan 2) We have taken a typical design for 1200 pupils from the EFA website, and increased it by 20% to allow for 1500 pupils. (Plan 3) The E shape favoured at present by the School can also be fitted on the site. (Plan 1 and Plan 2)
Existing Saddleworth School OS Plan
Building the New School alongside the Existing School
One block would be demolished (the most northerly on the site) to enable the new access road to be constructed. This would require the relocation of 6-8 classrooms in temporary accommodation until the new built was complete. After the building is completed the school can be moved into the new building and the rest of the buildings on site demolished to allow the construction of new playing fields.
One option is to retain and renovate the existing sports hall (built in 1980's/early 1990's), this would enable the money saved to be spent on improving facilities in the main school block. This could be upwards of £1,000,000
Health and Safety
The construction site would be screened off from the rest of the school site during construction. Care would be needed however in the use of the existing vehicular access to the school site during the construction period. Pedestrians should be required to use other entrances to the site.
There are 102 car parking spaces on the existing site which will be unaffected by the proposals (there are actually more). The proposed Diggle site shows 97 car spaces. 9 car spaces on the drive would have to go temporarily during the construction period, but there are considerably more than 9 spaces elsewhere on the site, which will ultimately be moved to make way for the new playing field arrangements. At no time will there be fewer car spaces on the site than are proposed for Diggle.
The existing driveway has an average gradient of 1 in 11.5. By comparison Huddersfield Road up to Austerlands is 1 in 12 and Lydgate is about 1 in 14. The proposed construction access will be 1 in 12 if it is taken from the back of the existing car park immediately on the left, and it will be 1 in 20 if it goes from the front of the car park (assuming 178 build level).
The proposal shown for the construction access will involve the relocation of about 6 classrooms on a temporary basis. These could go on the hard surface court adjacent to the all weather pitch.
The identified costs, over and above the building of the new school and reinstatement of the playing fields (which it is understood will be bourne by the EFA), are shown below:
- Temporary Accommodation ~ £140,000, but in reality could be less.
- The cost for lowering the site to the 178m contour and constructing the new road is ~ £200,000.
- The cost of demolition of the school after construction of the new one is ~ £150,000.
- Possible retaining wall at the rear of the site ~ £80,000, this would be less if gabbions were used.
Total ~ £570,000
Existing all-weather pitch retained. New pitch is the same size as that proposed at Diggle. The other sports pitches shown are as Waterhead Academy sizes.
The new recreational facilities will all be constructed on a site which will be level, unlike the proposals for Diggle, so the cost of providing the pitches will be considerably less.
The proposal above is workable scheme. However more detailed information about the site and the operational needs of the school is required to produce a detailed plan. The proposed scheme has been done on the basis of OS plans, as we haven't been given any drawings of the school, or seen the business plan. With more information a better operational solution and one that has been more accurately costed can be achieved.