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Building new school in Uppermill could cost less than building in Diggle – detailed plans under consideration

Plans for the new school in Uppermill submitted to OMBC and the EFA

Plans for the new school in Uppermill submitted to OMBC and the EFA

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.”

25 comments to Building new school in Uppermill could cost less than building in Diggle – detailed plans under consideration

  • Interested Uppermill Resident

    A common sense proposal. I fully support the school remaining in Uppermill on the current site. Contrary to previous comments on articles, whilst supporting this sensible course of action and the work of the SDAG, I am not a Diggle resident, I am not going to have my view affected by a school in Diggle, I am a neighbour of the current site and I do have school aged children!

  • Saddleworth

    In response , are your school aged children at Saddleworth School now ?

  • Saddleworth Family

    “In response , are your school aged children at Saddleworth School now ?”

    My two are.I’ve shared it with them & they think it’s a fantastic solution, great modern school, extra sporting facilities & on existing site – well done!

  • Sparkle

    Of course you want it to stay in Uppermill !!! For all the benefits it brings to you . It’s just a shame the NIMBYS of Diggle don’t share the same logic . The only disadvantage to my children is a little extra walking if it moves to Diggle .
    HOWEVER the benefits if it moves to Diggle are huge .
    Our children will remain 100% unaffected by the new build . No dangerous construction vehicles being mixed with 1350 children .
    Their sports education will remain .
    We get to keep secondary education within Saddleworth for ALL Saddleworth Children .
    No spending on sweets , cakes and rubbish , hence giving healthier lifestyles . Helping Chilhood Obesity , an ever growing concern .
    We get a new school fit for 21 st century education with no areas remaining just to save a little bit of money !
    Excellent teachers working in conditions suitable for children’s needs .
    Diggle will benefit from the introduction of a safer road system at the entrance to Diggle of which they say is already a huge problem .
    The view of a derelict building for most will be blocked .
    It will give Saddleworth what should have happened 5 years ago !!
    Give me a sensible reason why this shouldn’t happen and not the NiIMBY approach we keep reading and I may just change my mind , but I rather much doubt this .

  • Sparkle

    Councillor Buckley , how can you talk of ” a brand new , fit for purpose school , can be built in Uppermill ”
    Yet your plans say the all weather pitch and outdoor courts can be retained and refurbishing the sports hall all to save money .
    We don’t want a doer upper ! ! We have been doing that for years .
    Funding has been given for a new school and unless it can be proved that Diggle is not a viable option for REAL reasons . I don’t think your actual offers on plan are sufficient .

  • diggler

    Sparkle why do you think 80 percent of people according to the poll think the school should remain on the Uppermill site?

    You keep going on about NIMBYS bur you need to realise that the vast majority of people in Saddleworth want the school to
    remain in Uppermill!

  • Interested Uppermill Resident

    Its presence in Uppermill brings no benefits to me. My children are primary aged. I have no problem with them travelling to secondary school, in fact I would prefer it if they did, as I believe that’s part of them gaining independence, their lives can be quite sheltered in Saddleworth. Even so, I believe Uppermill is the sensible location. Certain aspects of the current site do not need replacing, the all-weather being one of them. If I lived in a house that was the age of some parts of the current school and I was told it had to be demolished and was no longer serviceable I wouldn’t be very happy!

  • the_oracle

    Sparkle, if the Sports Hall gets a lick of paint and the out of date, NOT fit for purpose, hard as nails surface on the existing all-weather remains, what’s your problem? Still, it’ll keep the orthopaedic surgeons in work for years to come. We want a ‘state of the art school fit for the children of Saddleworth’ and whisper it……’apart from the bodge-it-and-scarper sports facilities’……..catchy eh?. So as the headline says, keeping the school in Uppermill ‘COULD’ cost less, but ‘WILL’ it?

  • Sparkle

    Diggler , where do you get your facts from ? 80 % of a poll of 513 people means absolutely nothing . It certainly isn’t the VAST MAJORITY of Saddleworth as you put it .
    Do you want to put this in terms of saddleworth residents to give a realistic percentage of people against the build in Diggle .
    Maybe another new poll should be started .
    Nothing at all / new school in Diggle As that is a possibility not to be ruled out .also .

  • Sparkle

    Interested uppermill resident.
    All I can say is you need to go and have a good, close look around.
    The school has fantastic teaching in place . That is all it needs , but might not meet all legal criteria necessary of today.The all weather pitch is not without its problems either in my opinion. Can they cater for 1350 children to sit and eat dinner? Lockers are outside as there is no room inside an introduction last year !!
    Fire regulations, damp, rot etc etc etc. We need a new school ! And everyone even SDAG agree ! On that one. Why would we have been given funding if not?

    (Moderated by Editor)

  • Sparkle

    Yes COULD ! But WILL it .
    Doubt very much . Cos the extra paint and decorators won’t have been budgeted for . Also waiting for the first suing case ?
    I doubt the people commenting realise there are 2 sports halls !! On different levels with tiny changing facilities and no lockers . But hey they don’t care .
    I work in radiology and yep you right , it will keep me in employment for years to come !!

  • Saddleworth

    Funding for a new school in Diggle if all plans etc passed with no disruption to our children’s education !!!
    A build on existing site with huge implications of construction noise and traffic and now tarting up one of the two sports hall or is it both halls ? And retaining the all weather pitch and courts that are probably needing replacing soon anyway ! What else will you be trying to salvage just to keep the costs down with these new plans .

    And to those that think 400 votes in a poll of just over 500 who can be bothered to , is a reflection on the vast majority of saddleworth you may just want to have a rethink .
    I’m guessing but is it about 10000 homes in Saddleworth ?

  • Interested Uppermill Resident

    I’m not stupid, I know we need a new school. I have taken a close look and it’s in very poor condition. My comment was pointing out that there are parts that are far newer than many people’s houses and yet are somehow no longer serviceable. Surely they should have been maintained better? I don’t suggest at all in my comment above that we don’t need a new school, I am saying that it should remain in Uppermill, built on the current site. If there are re-useable parts, then use them, but if not then don’t. We shouldn’t let our children have less of a school than the rest of the borough, but at the same time, we should be teaching them not to waste money unnecessarily and to be good neighbours and citizens. If the astroturf pitch isn’t good enough, fair enough, but are others any better, it isn’t that old, why isn’t it good enough, who is responsible for it not being fit for purpose?

  • I give up

    I wonder what the poll would be if it said … I dont care where it’s built, just do it right. I personally don’t care any more where this school is built. We’ve got pros and cons on both sides. Diggle is an easier site to work on … but then there’s access and residents to keep happy. Uppermill would keep the nimbys and naysayers happy but it’s a bodgit job. Looking through the proposal – 150k for demolition … for real ? You need to add a zero at the end! So not so cost effective a solution. Where are you dumping the waste from this demolition?! I’m actually giving up on this argument totally – at this rate there wont be a new school and seeing as there is no 2.5mill to make the existing school safe for the kids it’ll be on the bus to Oldham to the Academies they go. Don’t bother posting your flaming comments, I just give up on it all – wherever it’s built someone will have to compromise – unfortunately all the arguments and postulating – the compromise will be our kids.

  • Sam

    Why does everyone think that this is just a doer upper proposal. Just read the article more closely. The school building will be completely new. It will have new sports fields and as an ADDED benefit the existing all-weather pitch and outdoor courts can be retained, because they are still serviceable. The refurbishment of the existing sports hall is only a SUGGESTION to enable some money to be saved. (“Further savings MAY BE made by refurbishing the existing sports hall”). If this isn’t practical then a new sports hall could be built on the existing site.

    The initial costings have been done by professional people, so if they say that the demolition will be £150K then that is a true estimate of what it will cost.

    The Head Teacher, Matthew Milburn, has gone on record as saying that there isn’t any safety issues having the school open whilst the building work is commencing on the Uppermill site. He says that the children can be kept away from the enclosed building site.

    Try and look a few years into the future.
    We can either have a new school in Uppermill on the existing site in the right place and protect the village environment of Diggle, or we can be shortsighted and have a new school in Diggle that has ruined the village character and an important wildlife environment and produced horrendous traffic issues every day, together with more houses on the existing site and the bus turning circle in Uppermill.

    Don’t be shortsighted. By building on the existing site we can bring the community back together AND have a modern school for the children, fit for the 21st century, where it should be in the heart of Saddleworth.

  • Have followed this “long-winded story” with some interest (as in working in the vicinity) – and had this thought today …

    Has anyone asked the kids what they feel ???

  • Sue

    Anyone asked the question if the new proposal goes ahead
    Where will saddleworth show go ? Having had very successful weekends the last couple of years at the school and raising valuable funds for the whole community .
    Where will Saddleworth Olympics go ? Having had some fantastic years here now with more entrants than ever and given a great income to the school .
    Where will the sports clubs go that use the sports facilities out of hours ?
    All these events are a much needed income to the school as well as themselves . And surely the loss of income has to be accounted for in your figures

  • Sue

    Sam, just wondering where I can get the info that Mr Milburn has said that there aren’t any safety issues building whilst the school stays open and that the children can be kept away from the enclosed site ?
    He talked very differently in his interview and that is all I can find .

  • Sam

    Sue, both Mr Milburn and Cllr Brian Lord mentioned it at the Diggle Community Association meeting on the 14th November to over 80 residents, which included myself.

    The DCA Minutes of the meeting (available from their website – contain Brian Lords comments “The reasons not to build on the present site before were, too much disruption and also too expensive. With the plans suggested by John Barnes, Matthew said that he could manage and that it would not be too big a problem.”

    He did say at the meeting that he could keep the children separate from the enclosed building site and that safety wasn’t a problem. I have it written down from my own notes of the meeting.

    At no point in the meeting did he voice any concerns for the childrens’ wellbeing if the new proposals for the existing site went ahead.

  • Local

    I think Churchill playing fields was a good venue for the Saddleworth Show. (Might’ve been a good school site) There was also talk of marking on a grass running track and improving the drainage on the the hard standing so it’s fit for use by other groups especially the Olympics but also for other sports. I’m sure Oldham Council had it in the plans. I think they might also improve the changing facilities so it can be used by men and women.
    Just wondered whether there could be anyway in to the Uppermill school site from Ryefields?

  • angry diggler

    Also has mr milburn realised that if the school is built in diggle, sooner or later there will be a demolition site right next door when they demolish shaws pallet works to make way for what ever the site owners have planned next for it.

    Probably 150-200 houses seeing as the local parish Councillors who are all for the school say there’s 200-300 potential houses in the leaflets if the school isn’t built.

    or haven’t they yet realised that of the prime building land avaliable on the site. only a quarter is utilised for the school.

    so they effectively want saddleworths future children to live next to a potential massive housing development.

    really good news for the childrens wellbeing eh!

  • Sue

    No Sam can only find the bit where MR Milburn says if the build goes ahead in Diggle he will bend over backwards to keep them safe .
    I read a bit about if Uppermill is viable ?
    But can’t find the bit where you said he can keep the children separate or that safety isn’t a problem to him.
    I do feel some of people’s wording are very misleading of true facts .
    I read that 9 out of 10 people according to SDAG want the build in Uppermill but I am not sure where this fact has come from either .
    Hopefully the end result will be one in favour for what is best for the future education of Saddleworth children , making sure they are safe and educated with no disruption .

  • Sue

    Local , yes you are right they were good venues .
    However the Olympics has always used the sports facilities at the school for quite a few events , rounders , badminton , dodgeball and netball now as it is better indoors . Also lots of the pre training is held in the hired out sports halls . This gives valuable income to the school .
    I believe Saddleworth Rotary have had better success at the school by holding the event over 2 days and have the choice of indoor / outdoor depending on the weather which is always a major concern for them . It has been said they will probably carry on with the school as their venue for those reasons .

  • Sam

    My neighbour made a very valid point.

    The existing site is future proof. You can build a new school on the playing fields and demolish the existing school and replace it with new playing fields again and again on the same plot.

    With the Diggle site, in the future if you wanted to build the school again on the same plot you couldn’t, because you couldn’t rebuild it on the playing fields, as they are on the Green Belt. The Uppermill site and probably the rest of the fields around the Loom Works in Diggle, will have had new housing built on it by then and OMBC have already shown that there are no other big sites to build a school on in Saddleworth.

    As OMBC were talking that the new school’s life span is only about 30 years, it is something that everyone needs to consider and the existing site is the only way forward to be sure of a secondary school in Saddleworth for many more years to come.

  • Adrian Cunningham

    Both my sons attended Saddleworth School and it was apparent then that the school was struggling in many areas with its capacity and design and was in urgent need of an upgrade in order to cope with the number of pupils attending. However, I do have a number of concerns about the proposal to relocate the school on the site of the former pallet works in Diggle.

    Having lived in this village for over 30 years I believe that I have a clear understanding of the various arguments, particularly those concerning access and pupil safety. The proposal as I currently understand it would use the existing access along Huddersfield Road to the main entrance to the existing site. Huddersfield Road is narrow and has an awkward junction with Standedge Road and Wool Road, which currently causes a number of driving hazards, not least due to the parked cars of residents at that end of Huddersfield Road. I appreciate that there is a proposal to provide off street parking for those residents, but there is still the issue of the width of the road at that point, which I believe will constitute a potentially serious safety hazard to pupils walking to and from the school.

    Currently Uppermill is extremely congested at pre and post school times, with the volume of parents dropping or collecting their children by car, pedestrian pupils and the large numbers arriving by bus. A purpose built bus stand has been provided to service the bus passengers, and it is directly connected to the school by a footpath. Currently in Diggle there is no such facility and the passage of buses along the existing 184 routes along Huddersfield Road cause enough problems. The prospect of so much more traffic, including staff journeys through the village is going to seriously raise the danger levels. There is only a footpath along one side of Huddersfield Road and that is very narrow, particularly at the Standedge Road junction.

    There is absolutely no infrastructure in the village to support the children who are currently allowed into Uppermill at lunchtime. We are blessed with a very small Post Office/ Village shop, a Newsagents’ which has very little on offer and a Fish & Chip shop, which is already causing traffic chaos at the Ward Lane /Spurn Lane junction due to parked vehicles. Uppermill has considerably more facilities to deal with this, having been developing as a tourist destination for many years. Moving the school to Diggle would also cause economic damage to traders in Uppermill.

    The site itself is prone to flooding, being on the flood plain of the river that passes close to the site. It is also bounded by the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, itself a serious potential hazard. In addition to this, there is a main railway line which is about to undergo electrification. From a Health & Safety viewpoint, how many undesirable hazards are required. It is beginning to sound like an examination question on hazard identification.

    It has also become clear that the site is a breeding ground for the Northern Lapwing, which is a threatened species and the site may well be considered a site of Biological importance. The development would devastate this breeding ground as well as destroying a special and beautiful area of countryside.

    One of the main reasons that I have seen suggested is that of cost. It would be extremely sensible to review alternative plans for the redevelopment of the Uppermill site vs. Diggle on properly costed and independently audited plans before categorically striking the Uppermill redevelopment from the argument.

    My main concern is with the safety of the pupils who will attend the school and that of the village residents as well and for this primary reason, I do not believe that the current plans are at all acceptable and that it would be far better to redevelop the existing Saddleworth School site as it is clearly more suitable.

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