PLANS have been passed to demolish the existing Greenfield Primary School and build a new double-capacity school on the current sports field.

Applicant Oldham Council said the development was needed to meet the deficit of primary school places across Saddleworth and Lees.

However, objectors cited the increased size of the establishment, huge rise in intake from 210 to 420 pupils, and severe traffic problems at the site of the new school in Shaw Street as key concerns.

Councillors voted 10 in favour of the new school, with one abstention, at a planning meeting on Wednesday, February 21.

Councillor John Hudson said at the meeting: "I don't think there is any difficulty in saying that the vast majority of people do want a new updated school for Greenfield.

"Originally, I had 101 people coming to my ward surgeries with worries and now it is the other way around - I have 101 people wanting to get on with the school."

Saddleworth Parish Council previously called for Oldham Council to look for another site. However, the chosen location of the new Greenfield Primary School - on the existing school's sports field north east of Shaw Street - was deemed the only practical solution.

Councillor Steven Bashforth, chairing the meeting, said: "The Government is virtually ordering us to approve any schools that come our way. We can only debate it, make modifications, and put conditions in, and that is what we are doing."

The new two form entry primary school will have an intake of 60 pupils per year, with nursery provision for 26 young children.

Vehicle access to the school will be from the end of Shaw Street, leading to a 34-space car park left of the school entrance. Meanwhile, pedestrian access will be to the north of the building.

A rounders pitch, 60-metre running track, mini sports pitch and changing rooms are among the new sports provision to be built at the location of the existing school.

Objector Dr Andrew Taylor, chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents' Association, said at the meeting: "The Association is in favour of a new school but not a double-entry school, doubling the severe impact of the school locally. We need a replacement school, not an extended one.

"We have serious concerns about the school size and projected pupil numbers, traffic flow along Shaw Street, South Avenue and Arthurs Lane, inadequate on-site parking, lack of a drop-off zone, the unadopted road surfaces with potholes, a history of flooding on these roads, and a dangerous lack of pavements."

He called for Oldham Council to resurface the roads, build pavements, introduce a 20mph speed limit in the area at school time and a pedestrian crossing on Chew Valley Road.

Mike Rooke, a member of the Association, said: "We were not surprised at all about the outcome.

"None of us were against building a new school the same size as the present one. The old building is in a dreadful state. But this decision means that a two form entry building will be erected on a very small field site, close to residential properties.

"The majority of the intake of pupils will live outside our village, bringing a total of 252 cars to the school site twice daily, creating logjams of traffic and raising air pollution to potentially dangerous high levels.

"In this context and given the devastating consequences for Greenfield village, it was unforgivable for our Saddleworth South Ward Councillors, John Hudson and John McCann, to support this proposal."

Applicant Andy Collins said Oldham Council had a duty to provide adequate numbers of school places.

He said at the meeting: "The demand for school places in Saddleworth and Lees is due to increase by approximately 30 pupils per year group.

"If the local authority does not expand in that area, it will be in breach of its duty to provide sufficient school places.

"The current building is not suitable for modern teaching. The education of those who attend and those who will attend will be enhanced by this expansion."