Stephen Irvine Oldham COuncil

Oldham head of planning resigns

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Oldham Council has confirmed that head of planning Stephen Irvine has resigned, bringing to an end an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct.

On Monday, it was revealed that Irvine had been suspended while an investigation took place, although it was not revealed what the claims were in relation to.

In recent months Oldham Council’s planning committee had been mired in controversy around the approval of two particularly contentious planning applications; Russell Homes was granted planned consent for 265 houses at Knowls Lane, a 39-acre greenfield site in Lees, while 32 houses were approved from First Choice Homes in Hodge Clough Road. Irvine represented the council at the committee on 1 July, with complaints received afterwards regarding how the democratic process was managed.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Howard Sykes urged the council to investigate whether the allegations against Irvine was related to the approval of the projects, and called for the decisions to be revoked if anything was found amiss.

However in a statement earlier this week, the council defended its decision to approve the projects, stating “a thorough investigation into the process has been carried out and we are satisfied that all procedures were correctly followed in line with legal requirements. The decision taken by the Planning Committee stands as we believe the developments are in the best interest of the borough.”

Today, the council confirmed that Irvine had resigned, with no further comment regarding the nature of the accusations.

Helen Lockwood, deputy chief executive said: “I can confirm that Stephen Irvine has resigned as head of planning at Oldham Council. This decision brings to an end any ongoing internal investigations. However, we can confirm that the allegations made were not related to his role in supporting the Council’s planning committee nor to the advice or outcome of any planning decision.

“We regret that the details of an internal process relating to an employee were made public before we had chance to undertake an investigation or reach any conclusion as to the validity of those allegations.

“We wish Steve well in the future and thank him for all his hard work for Oldham Council over the years.”

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A royal shame – but at least this prevents the potential stripping of these applications. Onwards for Oldham, it needs it!

By Destroy-All-Nimbys

A real shame. Often viewed as a Pro-Development Officer – which is of course what national policy and rhetoric directs. He stands out in this way as so many other Officers, Planning Heads and Members are so anti-development. I wish Steve well in his future career. Finally, his resignation does not mean the Valley Tub Thumpers were right!!!

By Blue Stu

I am deeply disappointed that the details of the misconduct claims have not been revealed. How can we allow misconduct performed by our civil servants to be swept under the carpet without another word?

By M.G.T

Well the objectors really went to town on Mr Irvine didn’t they ! What a disgrace . Next step OMBC , all over social media that there next aim is a Judicial Review to overturn the planning approval for the development that Russell Homes submitted. Watch this space

By Observer

Shame the investigation into the allegations of misconduct can’t be made public.
As for the Ashbrook Valley housing plan, I hope this gets reversed. That land is Other Protected Open Land and needs to remain so. This beautiful landscape is loved and used by many and is home to many species of wildlife. Also I have heard that there are plans to build more homes on the other side of Springhead around the area of Stonesbreaks Rd and at the Birks Quarry at Austerlands. So in total there will be an extra 700 homes within a mile radius. (Needs to be also overturned).
There isn’t the infrastructure to cope with such development….the local schools, medical facilities etc struggle now, what is it going to be like with another 700 families living in the area.
Not only that but there are only two roads in and out of the Saddleworth area – Lees Rd and Huddersfield Rd. Imagine the impact of all those extra cars on peoples daily commutes, on our enviroment, and our health, especially those with asthma or any other breathing related illnesses.

By Disgruntled Lees resident

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