Answers over former Two Trees site concerns will not be given in public

COUNCILLORS and MP Andrew Gwynne have come out fighting against members of their own party over concerns a former high school will be developed for housing.

But they have been told the full answers they want will not be given in public.

However, Tameside Council has been told it would have to start over again if it wants to dispose if the site.

Feelings are running high after it emerged the authority is considering marketing the entire footprint of the former Two Trees High School, on Two Trees Lane in Haughton Green, for a housing development.

The approval to move forward with declaring an adjoining four acre site on Mill Lane, once home to the Haughton Green Gardening Society, as surplus to requirements has only raised fears dozens of properties are coming.

The former Two Trees High School

That concern has sparked MP Gwynne, along with Denton South Councillors Claire Reid, Jack Naylor and George Newton, to question promises made some 12 years ago.

In a letter to the authority, they state: “The community was promised in a public forum in 2009 by Councillor Ged Cooney that only the footprint of the school would be developed.

“Members of the community and the Councillors are deeply upset that this promise could be broken.

“What is the council’s rationale for developing more than just the footprint of the school? Will the council consider developing just the footprint of the school as originally intended?

“At a public meeting in 2009, Councillor Cooney promised the community that should houses be built on the site then only the school footprint would be developed. What has happened to this promise?”

Now Tameside Council has been told by the Department for Education if they want to get rid of Two Trees, a completely fresh application would be needed as one sought in 2016 has elapsed.

It says: “Tameside applied for consent to dispose of the Two Trees High School site in 2016. Officials sought clarification on several issues in August 2017.

“No formal response was received from the council and there have been no recent discussions with the council as to the use of the closed school site.

“The council’s 2016 application has now been closed and the council would need to re-apply to seek consent to dispose of the site.”

A public meeting heard concerns about the impact a development would have on the area’s infrastructure – access to education, health services and even extra traffic on the roads – would have.

And the letter backs up those worries, particularly over secondary schooling and the road network.
It adds: “In 2010, Two Trees School closed and merged with Egerton Park School to create Denton Community College.

“When built, Denton Community College was meant to be both a visionary and modern facility to educate our children.

“Now, just over a decade later, this new school is at full capacity and has temporary classrooms to accommodate its pupils.

“Is the council content with allowing children to be taught in temporary classrooms?
“Can the council please advise what they envisage their timetable to be for the Two Trees School site? Have the Departments for Education and Culture, Media and Sport released the land from educational use?

“Will details be made available to all residents in Denton South, and will all local residents’ views on the potential development be accepted and taken into consideration?

“As locally elected representatives, our firm belief is that Two Trees Lane is unfit for purpose at this current moment, let alone with any further housing development.

“Indeed, the four of us have long petitioned Transport for Greater Manchester and council engineers to make adjustments to the road.

“What is the council’s current view on the capacity of Two Trees Lane? If the Government are insisting on council’s building more housing why can’t more money be provided to help with transport infrastructure?

“It should go without saying that the four of us are incredibly disappointed to receive the details of this proposal and we ask the council to think again.

“We have long argued that the site should be kept for educational and sporting use, and we still strongly believe that.”Despite such a public show of displeasure, the quartet was told the fuller answers it wants will not be made in public.

After backing them for the stance they have taken, Cllr Oliver Ryan – Tameside Council’s executive member for finance and economic growth – told a meeting of the executive cabinet: “It’s right they’ve taken the level of consultation they have.

“What we’ve got to do is recognise we’ve got Government-imposed housing targets, we’ve got a real lack of finances to be able to support other projects we have to run, so we’re having to look at the development on Two Trees.

“We want to start the conversation with the community and councillors about what that looks like in future.

“The letter is very through and I intend to meet Andrew and the ward councillors to discuss those points further and supply a more adequate response outside of a public meeting.”

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