78% in an independent poll said build Saddleworth School on the existing site in Uppermill

(source: Saddleworth School Poll on Saddleworth News)

90% of those asked are signing our door to door petition

Over 3000 people have signed a door to door petition asking for the EFA and OMBC to build new Saddleworth School on the existing site in Uppermill and it's growing

Come and JOIN THEM
Sign our online petition TODAY

The Oldham Council Proposal in Diggle

Oldham Council approved, at Cabinet on 21st July 2014, proposing an alternative site option for consideration in the project to deliver the new Saddleworth School (although the EFA are currently considering this option, so it is nothing new).

The council has now approved an option to complete legal negotiations to purchase the rear of the site, if it is selected by the EFA.

On the 22nd July 2014, a surprise press statement was announced by Oldham Council that the "back site" of the Dobcross Loom Works in Diggle was their preferred option.

This is remarkable since the Education Funding Agency has yet to announce their findings of their feasibility studies, which is evaluating all four site options available in terms of location, size, suitability and cost, (two on the existing Saddleworth School site in Uppermill and the two on the Dobcross Loom Works in Diggle), which isn't expected until late Autumn 2014.

And the EFA already told Oldham Council that they had rejected the "rear site" in Diggle back in August 2013 and the Canal and Rivers Trust contacted Oldham Council in September 2014 outlining their issues with the new proposed development in Diggle.

It is the EFA who will choose the location of the new Saddleworth School from the land options put forward by Oldham Council and the outcome of their current feasilbility studies.

Here is Oldham Council's interpretation of how they view the "back site" option.

Oldham Council's preferred option for new Saddleworth School
Oldham Council's preferred option for new Saddleworth School

Cllr Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said "We've listened to the community's concerns about the earlier Diggle proposals and are proposing a scheme here that would mitigate the potential impact."

"Buying the rear site would mean additional costs for the project. However, as a council we are prepared to contribute towards funding that gap. We also remain 100 per cent committed to the works and associated costs we already know would be required to address people's concerns about highways, parking and access issues."

It appears that the Council have selective hearing.

Moving the development site from the front to the back will not mitigate the other issues:

  • Access and safety for pedestrians on a narrow pavement.
  • Increased traffic and safety concerns for residents with no pavement outside their properties.
  • A modern building looking out of place in the landscape and our village character.
  • The harm the sports fields will have on the local priority bird species.
  • The impact on residents of noise, light pollution and increased traffic, as the school and the sports fields will be used seven days a week, well into the night.
  • Impact on Huddersfield Narrow Canal (which is a Special Site of Scientific Importance (SSSI) and a Site of Biological Importance (SBI)) with respect to both its wildlife and tourism.

The previous argument from Oldham Council that the school couldn't be built in Uppermill was one of cost.

It appears that Oldham Council can use additional money to site the school in Diggle, but is not prepared to use that same additional money to have the school remain in Uppermill.

One has to question WHY?

The following risks have now increased by using this site:

Safety issues

Not only are the safety issues for pedestrians on Huddersfield Road still not addressed, but this option moves the school closer to the canal and soon to be electrified railway line, which are already safety concerns.

Flood Risk

The back site of the Dobcross Loom Works is directly in the "Canal Hazard Zone" putting the children at greater risk. There is also a culverted watercourse which travels under the railway line, under the canal and under the Dobcross Loom Works to meet Diggle Brook. This culvert is known to flood the current buildings on the site.

In fact the Environment Agency would rather this culvert be opened up and definitely NOT be built on, if any new development was to be built on the Dobcross Loom Works site.

SDAG has obtained responses to Oldham Council from both the Environment Agency (about the culvert - see below) and the Canal and Rivers Trust obtained from freedom of information requests.

Environment Agency response dated 9th August 2013

OMBC: If the culvert was to be diverted, would it need to be opened up, or would it be possible for the culvert to continue running underground (it does presently)?

EA: We actively encourage the opening up of watercourses and strongly advise against the diverting of any watercourse underground. The opening up of watercourses has environmental, social and economic benefits and should seriously be considered. The deculverted watercourse could act as green infrastructure through the site, improve water quality, increase ecological potential, help mitigate the effects of climate change, provide open space for people to use and potentially increase land values.

OMBC: If the culvert wasn't diverted, would it be possible to build over the top of it?

EA: We advise against building over culverts. This is considered bad practice increasing flood risk to any building on top of the culvert. It could lead to maintenance and access issues, such as if the culvert collapses under the building.

OMBC: Does the EA have plans showing the position of underground culverts?

EA: We do not have any records of the culvert in question. We would recommend a site survey be completed to ascertain the route, size and condition of the culvert in question.