ALMOST 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing the redevelopment of a car park in Waterfoot.

Traders and residents in the town outlined their fury at a packed meeting in the Rossendale Mencap Gateway Club.

Social landlord Green Vale Homes and Rossendale Council have held preliminary talks with a view to transforming the empty Mytholme House complex in Burnley Road East into 21 houses.

But campaigners argue the demolition of a 33-space free car park on the site would have a serious impact on footfall in the town centre as it is used by hundreds of shoppers each day.

Around 80 people attended the meeting. Window cleaner Ronnie Harvey said there was ‘unanimous opposition’ to the proposals.

He said: “We’ve seen how businesses in Cloughfold have struggled because of double-yellow lines outside their shops.

“Waterfoot is probably thriving more than any other town in Rossendale. If they lose that car park, shops will close.

“There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s always full. We all want something done about the building but leave the car park and children’s playground alone.”

Mytholme House has been vacant for five years and has become a hotspot for gangs causing vandalism.

Chris Smith, from community group Waterfoot Forward, said the petition’s 900-plus signatures were gained inside a week, highlighting the strength of feeling in the town.

He said: “Every person at the meeting voted 100 per cent behind each of our resolutions.

“Removing the car park would kill the centre of Waterfoot. Who would want to come to a future ghost town anyway?

“If the land is not given away by the council we haven't got a problem. I hope the councillors who attended left with a clear mind as to the strength of feeling the people of the town have on this issue.”

Coun Jim Pilling, who attended the meeting, has been calling for Mytholme House to be demolished or repaired for almost two years. He said: “There are a lot of town centre businesses who rely on the car park next to the site.”