Huge new secondary school approved in town centre

Reporter: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
Date published: 26 July 2021

A huge new secondary school will be built in the heart of Oldham town centre after councillors gave the proposals the green light.

The Brian Clarke Church of England Academy is to be constructed on the site of a former Sainsbury’s supermarket off Booth Street, which has now been demolished.

The proposed 1,200-pupil academy is named after the Oldham-born artist and architect Brian Clarke, who works predominantly in stained glass.

The cost of building the school, which is to be run by the Cranmer Education Trust, will be funded by the Department of Education.

It would employ a ‘minimum’ of 72 full time teaching staff and 37 support staff.

Planning officer Graham Dickman told councillors that the building had been designed with a ‘mill aesthetic’.

“Clearly this is a positive contribution to educational provision within the borough,” he added.

The proposed school will stand four storeys high, and documents state the building will be handed over to the trust in March 2023.

However, the academy will open with a year 7 intake in September 2022, ‘initially teaching in temporary accommodation’.

There would be 112 parking spaces on the site, including 62 accessible bays, and four electric car charging points.

The main entrance would be located at the ‘natural arrival point’ at the junction of Middleton Road and Booth Street.

Cars would access the school from Middleton Road onto Booth Street, which would be narrowed to become a one-way system, with drop off and car parking bays created.

A new pedestrian crossing point would also be provided across Middleton Road.

Mr Thornham from Willmott Dixon Construction, who are working with the Department of Education to build the school said the site had been selected following an ‘extensive’ search.

“The proposals will secure much-needed additional school places for 1,200 secondary level students in the borough and will also provide employment for at least 120 full time equivalent members of staff,” he told a meeting of the planning committee.

“The trust has an excellent reputation for the education provision in the town and the academy will support the council’s local plan objectives to promote Oldham as a university town.

“The proposals secure the redevelopment of this brownfield former supermarket site in the town centre.

“The scheme will deliver a high quality modern facility which provides not only state of the art classroom space, but also excellent outdoor sports and play facilities.”

He added they intended to make an immediate start to the construction of the new school.

The Cranmer Education Trust already runs the Blue Coat Blue Coat School, St Georges and Mayfield Primary Schools in Oldham and St Anne’s CE Academy in Middleton.

Councillor Peter Davis said: “It’s connected to Blue Coat which is a successful school. It seems a win-win.

“We need more school places.”

The plans were approved unanimously by councillors.

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