Saddleworth Independent Councillors have written to Oldham Council to express their objections to the traffic proposal put forward by the Council for the new Saddleworth School.
The letter was sent to Michelle Carr, Assistant Director of Oldham Council and is copied below:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the traffic arrangements for the proposed new Saddleworth Secondary School in Diggle. As elected representatives of the villages mostly affected by the proposals, we wish to make the following comments. We are addressing these to you and other key council members and officers directly rather than submit them anonymously via the on-line consultation portal.
First of all we note the aims of the proposals:
- ensuring pupil safety
- prioritising bus travel and walking
- discouraging as many cars as possible from entering Diggle, and
- deterring parental drop-off and pick-up within the school site apart from staff/pupils who have restricted mobility.
Considering these, we have the following concerns:
- There are clearly difficulties with all the proposed schemes, both the earlier drafts on the website and the modified schemes presented at the drop-in sessions. What is apparent is that none of the schemes put forward satisfactorily address the four aims stated.
- We understand that the analysis of traffic movements is still underway, as is that of the existing and future school related movements by all modes of travel, including details of drop-off and collection by car and the means by which this can be safely accommodated. Without these detailed results, it is impossible to be confident that any of the schemes will work satisfactorily. Without the supporting evidence, the various highway schemes presented are of very limited value. Public opinion is not a satisfactory basis to select one or other of the proposals.
What does appear to be the case however is that public comments at the drop-in sessions highlighted problems that should have been self-evident had the traffic and transport analysis been carried out before highway design work was undertaken. The proposed location of the new school has been under consideration since 2008 and it is difficult to understand why satisfactory highway modifications, drop off/collection arrangements and travel plans had not already been firmly established, consulted on and agreed before the decision was taken by OMBC to locate the school in Diggle.
- Footpath widening in front of the properties at 20-44 Huddersfield Road is essential to pedestrian safety and will inevitably require a managed shuttle arrangement involving traffic lights. This will have a significant impact on traffic movements. Without a detailed analysis of the present and future traffic movements, the viability of what appears to be the only scheme offering acceptable pedestrian safety cannot be established. The proposal can therefore only be regarded as half-baked and premature.
- The objective of discouraging school drop off and collection traffic from entering Huddersfield Road presents issues on Standedge Road and the wider area in terms of displaced school traffic. None of the proposals appear to have satisfactorily addressed these. The likely use of Woods Lane, Platt Lane and Sugar Lane in Dobcross as a primary drop off route is inevitable. The proposals which aim to facilitate this are contrary to present policy to discourage traffic in a prime conservation area and an area with poor pedestrian facilities. None of the roads above have satisfactory footpaths, particularly Sugar Lane, and the peak traffic would present a danger to the increased pedestrian usage that would arise from the change in the school location. Sandy Lane in Dobcross, a single carriageway rural road, would also inevitably experience increased usage from drop off and collection traffic, as would Spurn Lane, its logical extension in Diggle. A lack of suitable provision and controls to prevent these activities occurring can be expected to have a detrimental effect on highway safety. The proposed mini-roundabout at the junction with the A670, aimed at providing a turning facility, seems technically difficult to implement without major engineering works and it is not clear that it would work for large vehicles. The change of traffic priority at the junction of the A670 with Huddersfield Road also appears likely to raise technical problems in terms of sight lines and traffic flow. None of these proposals appear to have been fully considered, nor costed, and have been proposed in the absence of any meaningful present and future traffic movements over the wider area.
- The impact on the main residential areas of Diggle to the north of the site does not appear to have been considered either. Spurn Lane has already been mentioned. Many of the residential roads will be seen as potential drop-off and collection points and areas to turn round. Parking in the school site is very limited and an increase in on-street parking is also inevitable. This will be particularly problematic at times of snow and ice when existing residents park on Huddersfield Road. No analysis of these factors has been presented.
- No mention is made of the likely traffic impact of the long established plans to create a new railway station in Diggle, nor the impact of more development on the two fields in front of the pallet works which are presently zoned for further development. Both factors need to be included in the traffic analysis.
In summary, there are a large number of issues associated with the proposals that are untested. The evaluation of traffic movements associated with the school relocation has not been undertaken to a level sufficient to inform the design of measures affecting the highway network in the area and consequently there is no evidence to support any of the current plans in terms of highway operation. The consultation on detailed highway layout proposals appears to be fundamentally flawed and in the absence of any supporting analysis some, or indeed all of the options presented, may fail to operate efficiently. Therefore, none of the present proposals can be regarded as viable.
Cllr. Nikki Kirkham (Saddleworth North Ward, OMBC)
Cllr. Mike Buckley (Diggle & Dobcross Ward, Saddleworth Parish Council)
Cllr. Lesley Brown (Diggle & Dobcross Ward, Saddleworth Parish Council)
Cllr. Keith Lucas (Diggle & Dobcross Ward, Saddleworth Parish Council)
Cllr. Katrina Roman (Delph & Denshaw Ward, Saddleworth Parish Council)
Cllr. Geoff Bayley (Delph & Denshaw Ward, Saddleworth Parish Council)