New Saddleworth School

The Government has allocated funding for a new Saddleworth School as part of its Priority Schools Building Programme.

Oldham Council and Saddleworth School are working in partnership with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) which is managing the project for the Department for Education (DfE).

Decision

Cabinet approved a report seeking a final decision on the site for the new school on March 30.

The Diggle Pallet Works site was approved as the chosen location. The report is available for viewing here – see Agenda item 8.

Highways proposals

Oldham Council in its role as Highways Authority has designed a proposed scheme to address additional traffic that could be generated in Diggle as a result of the proposed relocation of Saddleworth School.

The proposed design includes the following features:-

  • A parental drop off area and residential car parking on land adjacent to 44 Huddersfield Road, Diggle;
  • A car parking area for the use of residents of 20-44 Huddersfield Road which is directly at the rear of their premises and is accessed through the drop off area;
  • Prioritised traffic flow with permanent traffic signals outside 20-44 (evens) Huddersfield Road;
  • The widening of the footpath on Huddersfield Road starting from outside 20 Huddersfield Road towards the access road to the proposed new school;
  • The widening of the footpath on Huddersfield Road on either side of the junction with the access road;
  • The widening of the access road and the provision of a footpath on it.

As the Highways Authority, Oldham Council believes this scheme provides the best balance between ensuring pedestrian safety and maintaining effective traffic flows.

The provision of a drop off area offers a facility to discourage parents from using local roads as ‘rat runs’ and ‘turn around’ areas. The proposed residential parking will enable off street parking and reduce congestion on Huddersfield Road.

The above features are included within the design which will be submitted for planning consent during week commencing December 21, 2015.

As part of the statutory planning process there will be a public consultation. Residents and interested parties will be able to submit their comments for consideration by the Planning Committee.

Once the planning application is submitted it can be accessed via the Council’s planning portal using this link: http://planningpa.oldham.gov.uk/

The public will be notified when the 21-day statutory planning consultation period begins in the following ways:

  • Residents living immediately adjacent to the highways proposals and the proposed new school site will receive a letter;
  • Oldham Council will send a notification out to the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership e-network;
  • Oldham Council will issue a press release.

If the Planning Committee approves the planning applications for the new Saddleworth School, there may be conditions attached to any approval for the above highways scheme which may require it to be amended or additional provisions to be made.

The Highways Authority believes the proposed scheme will mean that minimal highways works will be required outside of Diggle, but this will be partly determined by whether any planning conditions are attached and/or whether officers subsequently identify specific issues in relation to traffic flows once the school is open.

In addition to the above works some additional highways measures – which would not require planning consent – are also being proposed.

These may include:

  • Changing the priority at the junction of Standedge Road and Huddersfield Road;
  • Reducing speed limits on Standedge Road towards that junction;
  • Parking restrictions along Huddersfield Road – these may be single yellow lines to restrict parking on Huddersfield Road during school drop off and pick up times or may be double yellow lines to restrict parking at all times in view of the additional residential parking that is being provided as part of the drop off area;
  • Traffic calming may be required on Huddersfield Road to slow traffic that is approaching the access road to the school;
  • Relocation of bus stops;
  • Any other measures arising from the statutory planning process.

These proposals would be the subject of a further public consultation after any planning consent has been granted and would be carried out in 2016 under Oldham Council’s responsibility as a Highways Authority.

Past Consultations

Interserve provided an opportunity for the public to view the proposed plans for the new school, ask questions and submit feedback (consultation closed 23 June). Details can be viewed at http://www.newsaddleworthschool.co.uk/

A consultation took place considering a range of different highways options for Diggle in summer 2015.

Regarding the selection of the site, Oldham Council issued a final call for submissions from the public and stakeholders on February 18. This consultation ended on Wednesday, March 18 and comments were included in the final Cabinet report.

The main EFA Feasibility Study is available at:

To get copies of the other supporting documents to the EFA’s Feasibility Study please email:

Saddleworth School was discussed at a Full Council meeting on 4 February 2015 when a petition entitled ‘Don’t move Saddleworth School’ was received.

Background

Saddleworth School is an 11 – 16 age range 1,350 place secondary school in the borough of Oldham currently located in Uppermill village.

Saddleworth School

The school is to be rebuilt under the Government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) which was established to address the needs of those schools in the worst condition across the country. The existing school is made up of 11 blocks of accommodation, most of which are in a poor state of repair.

The new school will have capacity for 1,500 pupils.

The PSBP is being delivered by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), an executive agency of the Department for Education.

The school was originally earmarked to be replaced under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The current site is very constrained, with limited land upon which to build new school facilities. As part of the BSF programme, Oldham Council procured the services of Halliday Meecham who carried out an options appraisal and concluded that redeveloping the school on the existing site would be expensive and disruptive. It identified a new site at Diggle, approximately 2km away, upon which to locate the new school but the BSF programme was then terminated in 2010.

After it was confirmed that Saddleworth School would be part of the PSBP, all parties looked at viable site options with the aim of delivering a new, fit for purpose school and a facility the whole community could use.

In April 2014, Oldham Council completed legal agreements in principle to potentially buy land at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works in Diggle if it was confirmed as the preferred site. This option proposed to site the new school on land at the front of this site, adjacent to Huddersfield Road.

In July 2014, the Council’s Cabinet then approved a new option at Diggle. This was to complete legal negotiations to purchase a different plot at the rear of the site.

Further to the feasibility study to identify and review the options available to address the significant need at Saddleworth School, the preferred option for the siting of the new school has been identified as the area to the rear of the former WH Shaw Pallet Works in Diggle.

saddleworth school strip
Some of the dilapidated industrial buildings to be cleared at the rear of the WH Shaw site in Diggle.=

This scheme will see the industrial buildings cleared to make way for the new school, sports hall and ancillary buildings, and be more sympathetic to the local environment. Green Belt land at the site would be used for sports pitch provision and for the proposed parental drop off area and residents’ car park adjacent to 44 Huddersfield Road.

Oldham Council has already concluded the necessary legal agreements to enable it to complete the purchase at any time in the forthcoming months but this will only be done if and when Interserve – the construction partner selected by Government for this project – obtains planning permission for the proposed development.

The detailed design meetings took place in early 2015. The outcome of these discussions resulted in a planning application submitted by Interserve.

A structured approach is being taken in order to ensure that the four planning applications related to this one project are considered as one scheme.

The project is made up of four separate applications which are to:   

  • A) Build the new school on the WH Shaw Pallets site in Diggle;
  • B) Demolish existing buildings on the WH Shaw site;
  • C) Demolish the link bridge attached to the Grade II listed building on the WH Shaw site;
  • D) Provide a parental drop off area plus residential car parking as part of the wider highways scheme in Diggle.

A new Environmental Statement covering the entire project is expected to be completed in December 2015.

That means that a new 21-day statutory consultation will take place enabling the public to comment on the demolition, listed building and parental drop-off applications (B, C and D above) during week commencing December 21. 

Issuing the new Environmental Statement means the public will also be able to comment again on the school application (A) during that time. Any comments already received by the Planning Department will still be taken into consideration and do not need to be resubmitted.

Local residents in the vicinity of the WH Shaw site will receive a letter informing them when the new 21-day consultation starts. Oldham Council is also publicising this through local media and its other communications channels. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Last updated: May 26, 2015

Funding & Management

Why is a new school needed?
The existing school has been identified as being one of the schools in the poorest physical condition in the country. The current accommodation is not fit for purpose. A new school will be designed to accommodate the growing needs of both pupils and the local community and it will be tailored to meeting and exceeding the needs of modern education provision and will allow Saddleworth School to enhance its educational offer and to develop its ambition to provide the best standards of attainment.

How will the new school site and building help the education of my child?
The Saddleworth School Education Vision is to provide a school:

  • Where each child is supported to fulfil their own potential and to follow an appropriate pathway of their choice, wherever that may take them; locally, nationally or globally.
  • Where adults and children form a community in which everyone is treated with respect, given equal consideration of their interests and helped to have rich lives in mind, body and spirit.
  • Which teaches students to become confident, resilient and independent so that they can be successful in their lives after school.
  • That is embedded in the Saddleworth community, where children make a positive contribution to the community’s life.

The provision of the new school facilities will allow the school to concentrate on the provision of education without being hampered by the condition and layout of the current school facilities which are life expired.

How is the school being funded?
The new school will be delivered as part of the Government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) which was established to address the needs of the schools in worst condition across the country.

Who is responsible for the design and construction of the new school?
The construction of the new school buildings is being managed by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), an executive agency of the Department for Education. A project team has been appointed by the EFA and this team will manage the design and build processes. The EFA has selected a contractor from their Contractors Framework. On this project Interserve Construction Ltd is the contractor that will design and construct the new school.

How was the contractor chosen for this scheme?
The Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) is being delivered using the EFA Contractors Framework. This framework was established in line with EU Procurement Regulations. Contractors on the Framework were invited to tender for the design and construction of the North West 3 PSBP Batch of schools. Through that process, Interserve was appointed preferred contractor for this batch.

What is being funded by the Education Funding Agency and how much funding is available?
The EFA is funding the building of the new school and all the associated costs relating to the ICT network, fixed furniture and equipment, general sports facilities and landscaping. Oldham Council is funding works associated with the highways and access requirements and artificial sports pitch provision as identified in the Feasibility Study. The Council will also purchase/assemble the site for the school.

Site location

How and why was the WH Shaw Pallet works site chosen as the proposed site for the new Saddleworth School?
A Feasibility Study was undertaken by the EFA which looked at four possible locations for the new school, which were identified by Oldham Council:-

  • Option 1 – Diggle greenfield site - this option involved a new school building on greenfield land at the frontage land of the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site adjacent to Huddersfield Road and to the west of Diggle Brook.
  • Option 2 – Diggle pallet works site - this option proposed a new school building on land east of Diggle Brook and remote from Huddersfield Road.
  • Option 3 – Uppermill existing location - this option proposed a new building on the existing site in Uppermill, utilising an area near to the entrance currently occupied by existing school buildings.
  • Option 4 – Uppermill playing field - this option involved locating a new building on the existing site in Uppermill, utilising the existing playing fields, which are at the north east of the site on a plateau and remote from the entrance to the site.

The options appraisal of these locations reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of each. The criteria considered included:

  • Estimated Cost
  • Buildability / Construction
  • Teaching / Learning
  • Programme
  • Statutory Issues
  • Ecology
  • Operational issues
  • Public Perception and Opinion

The appraisal resulted in Option 2, the provision of a new school on the rear of the WH Shaw Pallet Works site in Diggle, both the Education Funding Agency and Oldham Council’s Cabinet selected and confirmed the site.

The advantages of this option may be summarised as follows:

  • It has significant benefits during construction with no disruption to education for the period of the build.
  • it keeps construction work at a clear distance from staff and students.
  • It reuses the former WH Shaw site and enables the replacement of a dilapidated site with a new educational facility.
  • Although not included within the proposal the option supports the redevelopment and setting of the Grade II Listed building.
  • It has a setting which is screened by established trees and is respectful of the Diggle Valley and brook, while also providing much needed educational infrastructure.
  • It is a larger more accessible site, with more sports facilities that are largely adjacent to each other, and teaching facilities located in one main block.
  • Associated highway improvements to be implemented by Oldham Council will benefit the rural community and residents near to the school in Diggle.

Was a replacement school on the existing Saddleworth School site considered?
The construction of a replacement Saddleworth School on the existing Uppermill site was always an option and was fully considered.

Whilst the replacement school could be rebuilt on the existing site it should be noted that due to the phasing required, the provision of temporary accommodation and a requirement for several decants, the construction period for this option would have been prolonged and problematic.

Maintaining an operational school within and around a construction site would provide a challenge in terms of noise, dust and loss of facilities resulting in significant disruption to the school and consequential detrimental effect on the education of the students for a substantial period of time.

The EFA also had concerns regarding the safety of staff and students during construction of a new building on the existing school site.

Surveys indicated that there may be poor ground conditions in some areas of the existing school site which would have increased the complexity of the build and the costs were projected to be significantly higher for both options reviewed for this location.

A new 1,500 place school (an increase of 150 pupils above the size of the existing school) would fit on the existing school site, however it would not meet current guidelines for the size of site for a secondary school.

The existing Saddleworth School site measures 11 acres although this includes several areas that would be unusable due to site levels and topography, particularly towards Pickhill Brook.
The chosen site at the former WH Shaw site would provide up to 18.11 acres of usable space.

If the Council can fund the cost of the highway works for the Diggle site, why can’t it fund the additional costs of the school remaining on the existing Saddleworth School?
The cost of funding the works required for the school to stay on the existing site is likely to be significant. It will include the need for extensive temporary accommodation and funding a much longer construction programme as the works will need to be phased to keep the current school operational.

The current site does not meet existing guidelines on the size of site appropriate for a secondary school.

Oldham Council is looking to acquire part of the former WH Shaw Pallet site by way of a land swap using the existing Saddleworth School site to ensure best value for money. Given current valuations this would provide a capital receipt which would then be used to fund highways improvement works in Diggle.

Are there now no plans to try and develop the green fields at the frontage of the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site for a school?
The proposal is to redevelop the land to the rear of the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site with the adjacent green field site being used as playing fields. Therefore, the previous option to build the new school on the frontage fields immediately adjacent to Huddersfield Road is no longer being pursued. 

Future for the existing school site

What is proposed for the existing school site in Uppermill once the replacement school is built in Diggle?
The existing owner of the former WH Shaw site would acquire the existing Saddleworth School site once it is vacated. The developer would be responsible for demolishing the existing buildings and any development on this site would require planning approval in the normal way.

What will be the future of the all-weather pitch currently located on the Uppermill site?
The site of the existing all-weather pitch is included within the land swap proposals and therefore, in the event that planning permission for the new school development in Diggle is secured and the Council calls upon its option to enter into the land swap, ownership of the existing all-weather pitch would be transferred to WRT Developments. As WRT Developments are expected to redevelop the Uppermill site on a residential basis, the all-weather facility would no longer be available on the Uppermill site.

A new all-weather pitch is proposed as part of the Saddleworth School proposals in Diggle, and it is envisaged that community groups would have access to this facility. As with the remainder of the education asset, nothing would be closed until a replacement facility is available.

What impact will the closure of the Uppermill school have on local businesses?
Whilst the Council would like to support local businesses in Uppermill, the businesses do not have a right to the school facility in the village. Future developments in the area would be expected to generate further footfall. By moving the school to Diggle, this would allow other businesses to benefit from increased footfall. The potential impact on local businesses is being considered and will be reported in the planning application.

Design

Who is responsible for the design of the building?
The EFA initially prepared a ‘control option’ which demonstrated that a new school building could be accommodated on the site. Interserve, the construction partner, along with its design team including JM Architects, Colour Urban Design and WYG engineers, are now developing a detailed design based on the initial ‘control option’.

Can Oldham Council, Saddleworth School and the public influence the design?
Oldham Council, Saddleworth School, the EFA and Interserve have developed the design of the school together. The School’s Technical Group has also provided input into the design. The design is at an advanced stage. However, the feedback gained during the non-statutory four week pre-application public consultation period will be reviewed and where the project team feel that amendments should and could be made to respond to comments received then such changes will be incorporated into the design.

Statutory consultation will also be carried out by the Planning Authority, Oldham Council, once the planning application has been submitted.

How many storeys will the new school building be?
The proposed building takes account of the topography of the site and is part two and part three storey building. To the front, the building will have a ground floor, with three blocks up to three storeys tall (the ground floor plus two upper floors) above. These will accommodate the teaching spaces. The blocks on the upper floor will be connected by glazed corridors. As the land rises towards the canal, the blocks will be two storey to the rear of the site.

How many pupils will the new school accommodate?
The new school will accommodate around 1,500 pupils which is 150 more than the current school.

How will the new school fit within the rural context?
The design of the school has been developed to respond to the local context. A colour palette comprising natural tones has been proposed, which includes greys, greens and browns. The existing site buildings have light and reflective roofs which are very noticeable from the surrounding area. The project team has ensured that the proposed school roof is more sympathetic to the rural context.

What materials will be used to build the new school?
The proposed external materials are:

  • Walls to main school building - brick generally at ground level, with render and wood-effect rainscreen cladding panels at upper levels. There will also be full height glazing to the links between teaching blocks at first and second floors.
  • Sports Hall - will have composite metal cladding panels.

Why isn’t the new school being built of natural stone, can’t the existing stone on site be reused?
The existing buildings will be demolished under a separate contract by the landowner. All materials will be taken off site by the landowner except for some concrete hardstanding to be left in situ or crushed for re-use below ground. The use of natural stone, including reclaimed stone, would come at a significant cost and far exceeds the affordability of the project.

Are buildings being developed in the Green Belt?
No buildings are proposed within the Green Belt. The scheme as proposed accommodates all of the school buildings, parking and bus turning areas within the previously developed area of the Pallet Works site. It is proposed that an artificial sports pitch, a grass pitch, and other grass surface sports facilities will be laid out on the Green Belt element of the site. Sports facilities are in principle acceptable uses in the Green Belt. Consideration within the planning application will however need to be given to the effects of the floodlighting, fencing and engineering works required to facilitate the sports pitch provision.

What sports facilities will be provided at the school?
Internally there will be a new four-court sports hall, fitness suite and activity studios along with a range of changing facilities. Externally a new artificial all-weather pitch and enclosure will be provided as a direct replacement for the current facility in Uppermill. Additionally there will be a grass football pitch, a 100 metre running track and field events area for long jump, shot putt etc.

What will be the visual impact of the all-weather pitch and outdoor sports facilities?
The new artificial pitch will be designed to reprovide the existing facility with 3 metre high mesh fence and perimeter lighting. The visual impact of the pitch will be considered within the planning application to be made by Interserve. This will include a detailed lighting assessment which will consider the changes in light levels in the area and any impacts on residential properties, ecology and other receptors. The assessment will specify a lighting design to ensure the facility complies with all required standards and avoids dazzle and glare. In addition, a planning condition is likely to be attached to any planning permission restricting the use of the facility to protect residential amenity further.

Will the sports pitches have floodlights?
The school is keen to allow the local community to use the facilities on site. In order to allow this, it is proposed that the artificial sports pitch, which is located closest to the school buildings, will have floodlighting. The Environmental Impact Assessment assesses the impact of this lighting, and all lighting across the site, and will specify the requirements of the lighting to be used to ensure that neighbouring properties and ecology are protected from light disturbance. It is most likely that a planning condition will be attached to any grant of planning consent to ensure that the scheme is implemented and maintained in accordance with those standards, as well as restricting the hours of operation of the floodlighting and times of use of the artificial pitch.

Has the design taken into account measures to reduce the possibility of anti-social behavior and crime occurring on the site?
Greater Manchester Police has already been consulted on the design for the new school. It has produced a Crime Impact Statement which will be submitted with the planning application. All necessary recommendations and planning requirements will be incorporated into the design.

Site & Design Considerations

Will the building be detrimental to the setting of the Grade II listed clock tower?
The impact of the new school building on the setting of the listed building is a planning consideration and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) assesses the impact of the development on the building. This concludes that the development of the school will improve the setting for the listed building.

Oldham Council is seeking to retain responsibility for the listed clock tower building and is looking at various funding options and uses that could safeguard the property for future years.

Is there a risk of flooding from either Diggle Brook or the nearby Huddersfield Canal?
In January 2010, Oldham Council commissioned JBA Consulting to produce a Hybrid Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA).

The report advised that: “The Diggle Brook flows through the Diggle School site; however, the risk from this small watercourse is estimated to be low. The sequential approach to development layout should be applied within the site so that the most vulnerable development is located away from the watercourse. The assessment added that “whilst the actual risk to Diggle School from Diggle Brook is low, the residual risk from the Huddersfield Canal is more significant, as it lies on higher ground to the east of the site”.

A site specific Flood Risk Assessment has been undertaken for the new School proposals which are on the eastern side of Diggle Brook and not the western side as was assumed in the initial Flood Risk Assessment.

Site specific flood data including modeled flood levels for the 1 in 100 (1% Annual Exceedance Probability) and 1 in 1,000 (0.1% AEP) year flood events were obtained from the Environment Agency. This identified that the proposed school building location was outside of any modeled flood plain and that the only areas subject to flooding was an area within the southern part of the site adjacent to the proposed sports area and a small area of flooding adjacent to the eastern river bank within the upper part of the school site, but this is to remain as a landscaped area.

The design will involve raising the bank in some areas along the eastern side of Diggle Brook with stone-filled gabion protection to alleviate issues with flooding to the playing fields, together with further regrading of the playing field area in order to create a natural basin between the sports pitches and the brook where the flood water will remain while it slowly feeds back into Diggle Brook. This will minimise the effect of flooding on the school’s use of the sports pitches and also ensure no impact on downstream sites.

The Oldham Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has identified that the upper part of the site is potentially at risk of flooding when the Huddersfield Canal becomes full. At present when the water level rises within the canal it flows through a 600mm diameter culvert down into Diggle Brook and this culvert is to remain and is to be surveyed to confirm its condition and identify any remedial works required. In the event that the culvert becomes overloaded, a dedicated overland flow route has been built into the design which will allow the waters to flow safely through the site unobstructed towards Diggle Brook.

Will the development and hardstanding result in increased risk of flooding downstream in Uppermill?
No. In respect to the development and any associated new hardstanding (tarmacked and concreted areas), the impact of run off can be effectively managed through appropriate drainage systems.

The Hybrid Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) report itself acknowledged that “all development proposals should look at opportunities to incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) to reduce the risk of surface water flooding (Sustainability Appraisal indicator). Surface water runoff from these sites should not increase as a result of development and not discharge into the combined sewer system.”

Such drainage systems have been developed by Interserve as part of the design solution for the school.

The underlying ground conditions consist of mudstones and siltstones with clays and silts which are not an ideal medium to utilise infiltration techniques such as soakaways or infiltration swales. At present flooding both upstream in Uppermill and downstream occurs during periods of intense rainfall (greater than a 1 in 30 year storm event i.e. 3.33% AEP). However, to reduce the potential risk of any flooding downstream (or potential backing up upstream) it is proposed to reduce the existing surface water run off by 50% as recommended within the Oldham Planning Policies and Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and provide the necessary attenuation and storage within the site.

Will the present sewage and drainage system be upgraded?
Yes, within the site a new surface water drainage system designed to the current standards will be constructed. This includes the required on site attenuation to ensure that no surface flooding occurs up to and including the 1 in 30 year storm event and that there is no increase in flooding outside of the site boundary for all events up to and including the 1 in 100 years plus 20% allowance for climate change; all in accordance with the requirements of the Oldham Council Strategic Flood Risk Assessment guidelines and national planning policies.

A new foul drainage system is to be constructed which will discharge to the existing 375mm diameter combined sewer which drains southwards to the west of Diggle Brook and will utilize the existing foul crossing of Diggle Brook.

To what extent does the site accommodate habitats for wildlife?
A habitat survey indicated a high proportion of habitats on site to be of low ecological value, largely comprising species poor improved and semi-improved grassland and hard standing. Habitats of higher value include broadleaf woodland, scattered scrub and hedgerow, all of which will largely be retained post development.

The buildings on site along with a retaining wall and the bridge have been identified as suitable to support roosting bats. Diggle Brook and the pond to the south of the site, are considered to be of local value and will be retained.

Adjacent to the site, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Site of Biological Importance is likely to be of up to National value given the historical record of the presence of floating water-plantain, a European Protected Species (EPS) within the water course.

To what extent is the site used by protected wildlife species?
Surveys along Diggle Brook for water vole, otter and white-clawed crayfish did not find any evidence of any of these protected species to be present. However, the UK Priority Species brown trout was observed within the brook. Also surveys for great crested newt at the pond did not find any evidence of presence however they did confirm the presence of the UK Priority Species common toad.

Bat activity surveys have been completed which confirmed the foraging activity of five bat species on site: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Natterer’s bats, brown-long eared bats and brandt’s/whiskered bats. Most activity was recorded along the brook. Further surveys to determine the presence of any roosting sites in the buildings, wall and bridge are being completed. Bats are also a European Protected Species.

Licensed surveys for floating water plantain will be completed during the optimum survey period, considered to be early June.

The Site supports a range of habitats which support an assemblage of breeding birds including two species which are of Conservation Concern and are UK Priority Species: house sparrow and dunnock; and a further four species of breeding bird which are of Conservation Concern: dipper, grey wagtail, mallard and white throat. In addition the UK Priority Species Northern Lapwing has also been recorded foraging on site.

The Northern Lapwing’s ideal nesting habitat is short grazed tussocky grassland, especially more structurally diverse cattle-grazed pastures with scattered tussocks of rushes. At present the grazing regime on site involves the use of sheep and horses, this reduces the site’s ability to support breeding lapwing as: horses and sheep typically create a large-scale mixture of short, tightly grazed and rank grassland which is unsuitable for breeding purposes. Desk study indicates that the Northern Lapwing has previously bred on the Saddleworth site, however, no breeding or displaying birds have been observed during breeding bird surveys. It is considered that the habitats surrounding the site display more ecologically diverse marshy grassland which would offer the ideal extensive habitats for breeding and foraging lapwing. It is considered that the reduction in grassland habitat as a result of the proposed development will not severely impact the local breeding / foraging populations of lapwing.

What will be done to protect the current habitat and ecology?
The assessment work being undertaken to inform the design and support the planning application will include setting out measures to mitigate against any significant negative impacts on habitats and ecology as a result of the development. Funding has been allocated to provide required mitigation.

What happens to the footpath across the site?
The footpath will remain in its current location. The main school site will be fenced with a 2.4 meter fence to provide security to the school. The boundary of the playing fields near to the path will be fenced with a 1.2 meter timber post and rail fence.

Will the railway have any effect on the project?
Investigations of any impact by or on the construction of the new school has been undertaken with Network Rail and statutory bodies and this dialogue will continue as necessary. The school is required to be designed and built in accordance with Building Bulletin 93 ‘Acoustic design of schools – performance standards’. The performance standards set within this guidance document are enforceable under Part E of the Building Regulations and form a contractual requirement of the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) output specification. BB93 provides guidance on all aspects of acoustic design within schools and stipulates criteria for internal noise levels, sound insulation between adjacent spaces and reverberation times. The noise surveys commissioned by the EFA demonstrate that rail noise impact on the proposed school is low due to the site being at a much lower elevation than the railway line. Such low levels of noise will not cause disturbance to teaching and as such the survey recommends the use of a sustainable, natural ventilation strategy in the majority of spaces, with mechanical ventilation being used in rooms on the building elevation facing the railway line to prevent noise having an impact on the provision of education.

If the site has been in industrial use for over 150 years won’t it be contaminated?
Initial investigations have found potential for some contamination on the site. Further investigations will be undertaken once the site has been cleared and remedial works will be undertaken to deal with any contamination and to comply with statutory requirements

How will you ensure that there is no undermining or negative impact on the canal retaining walls?
When demolition of the existing buildings is carried out by the current landowner it will be monitored by the Canals & Rivers Authority to ensure there is no risk of damage to the existing canal retaining walls. Interserve have also taken this into account in the design and through consultation with appropriate organisations. The new building is sited a significant distance away, and foundations designed so as not to influence the canal retaining walls.

How will you protect the amenity of local residents once the school is open?
It is not expected that the school will cause high levels of disturbance once operational, and these will possibly be lower than those associated with the former manufacturing use of the site. At the start and end of the school day there will be a high level of movement of people to and from the school. Managing the travel arrangements is considered further in the FAQs on highways and access. In terms of noise and light disturbance, the school buildings and sports facilities are located as far from residential properties as possible. Further, planning conditions will be attached to any planning consent to manage the times that the school and sports facilities can be in use. Moe information is provided in the questions on floodlighting.

Will the project affect emergency access to the railway tunnel and canal?
No, emergency access to the Standedge Tunnels will not change or cause a problem for the design or construction of the project.

Highways and Access

What Highways and Access Works will be undertaken as part of the construction of the new school?
Although very closely linked to the school development, these works will be carried out separately. It is well recognised that there is a need to improve accessibility at the proposed site in Diggle.
Meetings have taken place with representatives from the Highways Authority and a series of works have been suggested that will help mitigate the impact of the school and improve traffic flow for all Diggle residents.

Details of these works are likely to include:

  • introducing parking restrictions,
  • the expansion of existing parking laybys on Standedge Road to provide an early drop off,
  • widening the carriageway along parts of Huddersfield Road,
  • widening pedestrian footpaths along parts of Huddersfield Road to ensure that pupils can continue to walk safely from the neighboring villages and early drop off points
  • the introduction of a School Zone to ensure that the carriageway widening does not result in traffic increasing their speed,
  • widening and provision of footpaths on the access road to the Pallet Works site,
  • this would be in addition to the bus turnaround etc., which would be included within the site curtilage.

Oldham Council will carry out the majority of the works using its highways powers although, in respect to the proposed development of the residents’ car park, this would require the Council to submit a Planning Application. The contractor’s application for Planning Permission for the new school will include a Travel Plan which will be prepared in co-ordination with the School and Oldham Council.

How will children get to the new site from Uppermill?
The new school site is less than 2km from the existing school site. The Planning Application will include a detailed Travel Plan. The school buses will have a turning point within the curtilage of the new school site.

Is Oldham Council taking responsibility for additional buses that may have to be laid on?
The Council is in discussions with the School and Transport for Greater Manchester on this matter.

Where will parents be able to drop their children off for school?
There will be no provision for parents to drop children off within the school grounds so as to discourage traffic from entering Diggle village. Oldham Council are consulting on various highways upgrade options and the provision of drop-off lay-bys on Standedge Road is something under consideration.

If parents will not be permitted to drop pupils off in the school grounds, what about those pupils with special needs or those with luggage, such as large musical instruments or sports equipment?
The school is committed to ensuring such needs can be accommodated by arrangement.

How will the scheme ensure that there are safe walking routes to the school, the pavements through Diggle are not very wide at present.
The Council has a range of highway solutions, which include widening the footpaths to a 2m width. The highway options are being presented now and, with the benefit of the feedback responses, the Council will progress a scheme which balances pedestrian safety and traffic flow.

How many parking spaces will be provided on the site? Is this enough to accommodate all staff and visitors?
The design will accommodate an extra ten percent more parking spaces than are available at the Uppermill site. Further informal parking arrangements can be put in place to accommodate a significantly greater number of cars for special events to be held at the new school.

Will the access road and bridge be upgraded?
The Council will look to improve the existing access road by introducing a footpath that will allow pupils to access the site safely. It is likely that the existing bridge would not be widened and, the reduced width in this area, would act as a traffic calming measure for vehicles entering into the site.

How will parking for parent’s evenings and special events be managed?
During such special events the hard play areas and bus drop-off spaces will not be used so these areas can be used for car parking instead. This creates a large number of additional spaces beyond the basic layout.

Programme & Construction

What is the programme for the project?
A procurement and delivery timeline to deliver the new school on the land to the rear of the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site will be confirmed by Interserve as they develop the designs for the new school. We hope to be able to submit a planning application in Summer 2015, start construction work in winter 2015/2016 and open the new school in Autumn 2017.

When will the planning application be submitted?
The public consultation period runs until 23rd June. Depending on the feedback received during that time and any changes that may need to be made to the scheme, the planning application will be submitted shortly thereafter.

How long will the school take to build?
The construction programme will be developed as the detailed design progresses, but current proposals are from Winter 2015/ 2016 to Summer 2017.

What will happen to the public footpath through the site during construction?
The public footpath will be retained, with no changes to route or levels, although there will be new fences / boundary retaining walls along some parts of the footpath.

How will construction impacts on wildlife be managed?
The potential impacts of the construction are being considered as part of the design process. Where disturbance is possible, mitigation measures will be put in place to minimise any impacts and this will be reported in the planning application. Interserve will follow Considerate Constructors Scheme best practice guidelines during the construction. In addition, Oldham Council’s planning conditions will stipulate working methods and mitigation measures to be employed throughout the construction period.

How will you ensure that disturbance caused to local residents is minimised during the construction period?
The potential impacts of the construction are being considered as part of the design process. Where disturbance is possible, mitigation measures will be put in place to minimise any impacts and this will be reported in the planning application. Interserve will follow Considerate Constructors Scheme best practice guidelines during the construction. In addition, Oldham Council’s planning conditions will stipulate working methods and mitigation measures to be employed throughout the construction period.

General Questions

Who will be responsible for the demolition of the existing manufacturing buildings on the Shaw Pallet’s site?
The current site owner will shortly be submitting the required listed building consent application and Prior Notification Consent to Oldham Council seeking permission to demolish the existing buildings on site, some of which suffer from structural issues. These will be supported by bat surveys which are currently being undertaken on site to check for the presence of any bats and if necessary describe mitigation measures which will be put in place.

It is anticiapted that, in the event that planning permission is secured for the new school and Oldham Council call upon their option to purchase the land, a vacant site will be handed over to the EFA and Interserve prior to commencement of the school development.

Will Oldham Council own the frontage plots either side of the access road at the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site?
The frontage plots immediately adjoining Huddersfield Road would be retained by the current landowner. Oldham Council will, however, acquire the Green Belt land to the rear of 20-44 (even) Huddersfield Road.

Where will the existing users of the pallet works site go?
The pallet works site is now vacant. The last main occupier of the site, Patterson and Rothwell (injection moulders), only intended to occupy the former WH Shaw Pallet Works site on a short-term basis as a result of a fire in their previous premises. The company has now purchased and moved to alternative premises within the borough.

What will happen to the clock tower building since it’s not part of the school development?
The Council are keen to bring this property back into use. The Council have already discussed the building with a number of funders and end users and are keen to obtain further feedback from the local community.

What access will the public have to the sports facilities?
It is envisaged that the school will make the new, increased sports facilities available to the local community on a similar basis to the current facilities at Uppermill.

What happens if a Judicial Review is lodged?
This will be addressed in an appropriate manner at that time.