By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
A £10.8 million high school extension has been given the green light despite concerns over the extra parking pressure an extra 500 students would create.
Oldham’s planning committee unanimously approved the plans to expand Crompton House CoE school in Shaw, which will see pupil numbers swell by 50 per cent.
As part of the proposals, a three-storey teaching block would be built on the area currently used for games, while a new multi-use games area would be built at the back of the sports hall.
There would also be a single-storey extension added to the Clegg block to expand the dining hall facilities, as well as internal refurbishment of the existing Selwyn and Milne block.
The Ballard teaching block would be demolished and replaced with two car parking areas, adding a total of 74 new spaces.
The main access to the 92-year-old school is off Rochdale Road, with a secondary access from Grampian Way.
Crompton House currently provides 1,120 secondary pupil places. The expansion will see it grow by an extra 112 students in each year group to total 1,680.
Four residents had objected, citing concerns over highway safety, with neighbours arguing the extension would exacerbate existing issues around noise, parking, traffic and air quality.
Planning officer Tessa McGee told the committee the new development was considered ‘acceptable’ from a visual point of view.
“It is noted that the extension will increase the number of staff and pupils,” she said.
“The proposal will provide school places for the future and improve education facilities whilst maintaining the provision of the existing sports facilities.
“The setting and design of the development and the mitigation measures proposed will avoid harmful impact on the local amenities and highways.”
But Crompton ward Councillor Dave Murphy told the meeting the Shaw and Crompton councillors are ‘far from happy’ about the proposal.
“We have been kept in the dark until the last minute and have not been involved in the process again until the last minute,” he said.
“We only support this proposal from an educational point of view.
“Crompton House has been allowed to get bigger and bigger over the years which has created parking problems all around the area.”
Ward councillors have asked chief executive Carolyn Wilkins if a fund can be set aside to pay for residents-only parking schemes and double yellow lines around the school.
Cllr Murphy said a parking scheme would help relieve the pressure on residents as currently parents are dumping their cars ‘anywhere there is an entrance, a footpath, a ginnel.’
And they want children from the local area to be considered first for the new places as currently pupils come from as far away as Rossendale and Wigan.
“I’m mindful that you’ve not got a magic wand, but we need to make the best of a bad situation,” he added.
Committee chair Cllr Steven Bashforth said it was ‘difficult’ to go against the application, but recognised traffic problems are an issue that affect people living around schools.
Conservative Saddleworth Cllr John Hudson said he voted in the past against Crompton having this extension because of the effect on neighbours’ living conditions.
“We should be thinking about planning, about the effects and the infrastructure on things before we vote for it,” he added.
Planning officer Graham Dickman told members they will use a condition for ‘boundary treatments’ and liaise with neighbours to implement a scheme to mitigate noise.
A parking management plan will also be introduced to regulate the second entrance to the site.
The total cost of the extension to Oldham Council is estimated to be £10.89m – which is £2.89m over what the town hall had budgeted for.
Bosses have agreed to fund the extra costs from unallocated money in the Basic Needs Grant, which they use to ensure there are enough school places in the borough.