Land row grows over new school
Date published: 08 March 2013
A FREE school for 60 pupils is set to open in September on prime development land worth £1.3 million which is owned by taxpayers.
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed it is in the process of transferring the former South Chadderton School to Collective Spirit — which bills itself as a “faith-sensitive” secondary.
But the council insists it has not been informed and has already earmarked the site for a garden-suburb development.
An email to Collective Spirit adds: “Ministers have written to Oldham Council to notify them that we are using these powers to secure South Chadderton. The council will be required by law to transfer the site to the school.
“The Secretary of State is using his statutory powers in this way to make sure that the South Chadderton site is acquired in time for the school to open.”
It is unclear how much the council would receive from the Government for the land but the Chronicle understands it could ultimately be forced to hand it over for free.
Council leader Jim McMahon has already said the council will go to court if it does not receive the market value, leaving a black hole in the budget.
He added: “As far as I am concerned, we are still in the middle of discussions with the Government.
“They have asked us to provide more information. We have also put forward an alternative site which they were viewing last week. Our position on South Chadderton remains the same — it is not suitable for the school.”
South Chadderton was replaced by Oasis Academy Oldham which moved into a new £25.5million school in September.
Councillor McMahon added: “A condition survey said it was in a sub-standard condition, which is why it was replaced by a new school.”
Raja Miah, from Collective Spirit, said that the group had also been offered the Groundwork building in Higginshaw Lane, but did not think it was suitable.
He added: “Recent Ofsted reports clearly demonstrate the weaknesses of secondary schools in South Chadderton.”
An open day is being held for prospective parents from 6 to 8pm on Wednesday at the City Learning Centre, Hollinwood Avenue, Chadderton.
A DfE spokesman said: “The Secretary of State is using his powers as set out in legislation to transfer the site.”
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