Burnley residents mount campaign against planning application to build 44 homes on 'special location' site

Residents are protesting against plans to build a new housing development which they claim will destroy a 'special location' and see the loss of another valuable green space in Burnley.

A planning application to demolish the former short stay school, known as the Isaac Centre, in Harrogate Crescent, and erect 44 new houses, has been submitted to Burnley Council.

But residents in the area have a raft of objections to the application, including the increase in the amount of traffic the new homes will bring to the Briercliffe area. And they believe the Isaac Centre should be retained and used as an extension to nearby St James Primary School.

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Stewart Nutter, one of the lead protestors said: "Lancashire County Council held discussions with St James with a view to the school using the Isaac Centre to alleviate the school’s over subscription issues.

Harrogate Crescent residents held a protest on the site where a planning application to build 44 homes has been made

"Sadly, or in this case, maddeningly, LCC decided to not proceed with this.

"Surely it would be madness to sell this almost perfect solution to the school’s, indeed the area’s problem with shortage of school places, which will worsen once all of the new houses up Higher Saxifield are occupied?

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"Adding to the irony of this, Burnley Council insisted that the developers of the Higher Saxifield site pay over £800,000 for the provision of 32 new primary school places. Surely the ideal place for that money to be spent would be on the Isaac Centre, and perhaps some on St James?"

Residents are also claim that the houses are not necessary as the site is not on Burnley Council's local plan so the loss of well over 100 trees and shrubs is unnecessary.

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Mr Nutter added: " This is in addition to the recent loss/targeting of other valuable green spaces such as Higher Saxifield (130 new houses), Cliviger, the Rossendale Road planning application for over 100 new houses, and Clifton Street.

"Burnley Council have declared a climate emergency, but there is no evidence of this with the amount of these essential green spaces which are being totally destroyed in the name of (over) development.

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"There doesn’t even seem to be a single stipulation from the council on these plans to negate the impact that these houses will have on the local area and planet.

"Even without the new houses at Higher Saxifield, this is a highly developed urban area, where the local infrastructure is already stretched."

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Protestors have sent out two batches of leaflets to residents in the area in a bid to gain more support for their campaign.

Stewart added:" To me, it would be a travesty if this development goes ahead, and this marvellous place not put to better use.

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"You can pretty much build houses anywhere, but special locations such as this are quite rare indeed nowadays.

"Once gone, special locations and mature trees such as these are lost for good."

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A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "We appreciate that St James Lanehead Primary School is popular with families, however we have to consider a number of factors when considering the demand for school places, including the capacity of other schools in the area and, when extra places are needed, we look at the feasibility of all the available options to decide the best way forward.

"As our forecast showed a need for extra places in this area, schools were invited to put forward expressions of interest to expand, which led to a decision in March 2019 to expand Briercliffe Primary School to provide an additional 105 places from 2020.

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"An expression of interest from St James Lanehead Primary School was considered as part of this process, however this did not propose utilising the former Isaac Centre.

"The Isaac Centre site was declared surplus to requirements by the county council a number of years ago and marketed for sale.

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"We now have a contract in place for the sale of the site."

A Burnley Council spokesman said: "During the assessment of the planning application all the issues and concerns raised, along with any other arguments for and against the proposals, will be fully considered before a decision is made."