Residents in Earby have expressed outrage over the planned sale of greenspace land, believed to be home to an ancient spring, to make way for a housing development.
The neighbours said the land near to Bailey Street would be better served as a conversation area, and also expressed concerns that any building development would pose safety risks at the nearby Earby County Primary School.
The planned housing development in a partnership with PEARL 2 – an enterprise owned jointly by Pendle Borough Council and Barnfield Construction.
One of the residents said: "The land, which is situated off Bailey Street and opposite the local school, is used daily by parents and children walking to school, dog walkers and children playing.
"It was until the 2019 Green Space Audit, conducted by Pendle Council, identified as part of the Springfield Outdoor sports area. During the 2019 audit, this was reassigned as Amenity Green space in a pre-requisite to the proposed sale.
"After the proposal was passed by The Pendle Policy and Resource committee of Pendle Council on June 28th, an online petition was set up and attracted 271 supporters to date. This petition was presented to the full council meeting on July 11th, when a motion to stop the sale was tabled.
"The council again voted against the residents and pushed forward with the decision to develop this greenspace. These same councillors, some of whom sit on the board of the PEARL 2 enterprise, will also vote on whether the planning permission is passed for up to 12 semi-detached houses.
"The decision to push ahead with this development risks flooding to neighbouring properties due to the presence of a large natural spring/water table underneath the ground.
"This spring acts as a natural water run off to prevent flooding to housing on Wentcliffe Drive and is home to a variety of wildlife that are important to a diverse natural eco system. Development of this land would lead to re occurrence of water run off under the foundations of Wentcliffe Drive, as happened during the build of Aspen Grove.
"Building on this site also would put children attending Earby County Primary school in danger as during the build they would be hazards caused by an active building site, children walking to school would need to take a route to school closer to busy roads and an increased number of cars moving and parking around the school would cause further hazards."
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has also expressed his opposition to the plans.
He said: "I was disappointed last week when Pendle Council sold off a greenfield site in Earby for development, in the face of opposition from local residents. This decision, which will do nothing to protect our countryside, comes soon after they published plans for the Further Clough Head site in Nelson that will see almost 200 houses built, again on greenfield and again against the wishes of local residents.
"This approach is wrong for our area and unnecessary. Although the country as a whole needs to build new houses, we do not face the same pressures in Pendle and can afford to meet housing without building on greenfield sites. Even if this may be better for the council’s bottom line as they get more money from developers, it detracts from the natural beauty of our area and takes the focus away from regenerating brownfield sites and tackling empty homes."
A planning application for the housing development in Earby is expected to be submitted to Pendle Council in the coming weeks.
The application will be for 12 houses on land at Bailey Street which the council has said has been declared as poor quality land which is only suitable for housing.
The application will consider whether the land is suitable for development or should remain as open space.
Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, Chairman of PEARL, said: “We recommend that anyone interested in having their say on the housing development waits until the planning application has been submitted.
“The plans will be available to view in full and you’ll be able to formally put your comments forward to Pendle Council.
"The planning application will include a drainage scheme which will ensure the development does not cause flooding.
"And the method statements will set out how the work will be done to ensure everyone’s safety at all times."