Controversial new Gorton school proposals submitted to planning
Monday 30th October 2017 13:54 Business Community Gorton & Openshaw Health News Posted by Nigel P.

Open space at Nutsford Vale once filled with industry, then land fill, before being reclaimed by locals and turned into a highly valued green space.(picture courtesy of Friends of Nutsford Vale)

Plans for a new 1200 pupil school at a reclaimed beauty spot in Nutsford Vale, Gorton, are now under scrutiny despite continued opposition coming from local residents and councillors.

The application for the three storey building has been submitted to Manchester City Council planning  which if successful will  be built by Laing O’Rourke on approximately one third of the land area that makes up the green space 

Manchester City Council is proposing the school in Gorton as part of its Educational Basic Needs Programmeto address a shortage of school places across the city following a surge in population.

The council executive approved the school in December 2016, arguing the site was the only council-owned land in central or north Manchester capable of providing the necessary number of school places for local children.

The project which was submitted to planning on October 12th will include the construction of a steel-framed three-storey school building, a sports hall, parking, and sports pitches on the site off Matthews Lane.

The site which is now a park and community woodland space, highly valued by local residents has been host to a variety of uses and occupiers over the past two centuries.

These include use as a landfill site following extensive excavation of clay pits for a brick works, a textile mill, dye works, print works a chocalate factory and allotments.

A Save Nutsford Vale group has been set up and local residents are still hoping to halt the construction of the school, launching a petition against developing the land.

Recently residents have expressed concern that test ground drilling already taking place will unleash toxic, industrial waste including asbestos into the water table.

Former clay pits at Nutsford Vale that later became land fill sites (picture courtesy of  Manchester Libraries)

Residents argue that the site, as a former landfill, was home to “domestic, commercial and industrial waste including hazardous chemical waste that may be carcinogenic, corrosive, and poisonous”.

There are also objections due to the loss of green space in a built up area that claims only 15 per cent of green space as oppossed to the 27 percent average across the city.

It has also been noted that volunteers have used £700,000 of tax payers money in the past few years to reclaim the “dangerous brownfield eyesore into a beautiful country park.”

Local councillors, have also raised concerns against the proposal.

A contamination report submitted on behalf of the planning application has identified the “potential of

Metals, hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), asbestos-containing materials”

The report also recognises there is a potential of health risk for “future site users (e.g., pupils, staff and visitors) may come into direct contact with the underlying ground conditions in areas of soft landscaping, sports pitches, etc.; ground gases may accumulate in void spaces and migrate inside buildings; future site users may also be exposed to dusts or fibres in areas of soft landscaping or sports pitches, etc.” states the report.I

The contaminated materials could  be a risk by “inhalation/ingestion of fibres/dusts Dermal( skin) contact” are measured as high to moderate by the report conducted by building engineering consultants Ramboll.

According to planning documents and a remediation strategy prepared by Ramboll, Laing O’Rourke intends mitigate the risks by replacing top soil in soft landscaped areas with clean imported materials.

Laing O’Rourke have stated: “Mitigation measures for each environmental risk identified will be developed in a collaborative way, including relevant subcontractors and individuals carrying out the works to ensure suitable and practicable measures are put in place.

Environmental performance will be continually assessed and improvements will be undertaken as required throughout the duration of the project.”

Following three public consultations, the size of the school has been reduced from 1,800 places to 1,200, and the height of the main building has been reduced from four storeys to three.

Laing O’Rourke, who are commited to the project as the main contractors and principal designer, will construct the majority of the main school building using “off-site construction techniques”, according to planning documents.

Subject to planning approval, Laing O’Rourke aims to start on site in early 2018, and complete in summer 2019.