Sparks fly over academy decision

Reporter: Jennifer Hollamby
Date published: 02 July 2009


EMOTIONS ran high as plans to build an academy at the former Orb Mill site in Waterhead were given the go-ahead last night.

There were angry scenes at the civic centre, with one objector shouting: “You are taking this application for granted.”

Planning committee chairman Councillor Roger Hindle, who had warned objectors not to interrupt on a number of occasions, replied: “I resent that remark very strongly.”

In the end, protesters trudged away dejectedly after councillors approved outline planning permission for the proposed 1,500-pupil academy which will merge the Breeze Hill and Counthill schools.

Councillor Hindle reminded those speaking against the application that they could only oppose the academy on planning grounds. He said the evening should not turn into a debate about the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme — the Government scheme underpinning the plans.

Objector Ghazala Koosar told the committee that the school’s catchment areas were too far away from the site and that they were not well-served by bus routes.

She added: “Huddersfield Road is already one of the busiest roads in Oldham — this will create havoc on an already congested route.

“This will pose a substantial danger to pedestrians and cyclists and in my opinion one road death is far too many.”

She also complained that the use of some outdoor facilities at Counthill would create a split-site geographically unsuitable because of regular flooding to the road, which she said was the reason why a planned housing development was shelved in 2004.

The council’s head of transport and planning, Phil Joblin, told the committee that such issues would be hammered out at a later stage.

“There are an awful lot of matters we still need to clarify,” he said.

Councillor Keith Pendlebury said: “I don’t want to be told we can’t question the viability of certain aspects of the scheme after it has been passed.”

Mrs Koosar said after the meeting: “I don’t think that fair play was in operation tonight. We have already stated that the travel plan is inadequate, but they seem determined to plough on.”

WE would like to clarify that this planned academy will be run by The Oldham College.

Outline plans to build an academy at Brook Mill in Hollins Road were also passed.