CONTROVERSIAL plans to build more than 200 homes on a gateway site in Colne have been rejected - but residents face a further battle.

Campaigners from the Get Knotted group have been lobbying hard against proposals by Persimmon Homes for 203 new properties on a green corridor off Knotts Lane.

And the Colne area committee decided to turn down the national firm’s bid, on design and open space grounds.

But that decision will now be referred to Pendle Council’s development management committee, after town hall solicitor Howard Culshaw said the authority ran the risk of having costs awarded against it at appeal.

Earlier Pamela Slater, of Get Knotted, which sent detailed objections regarding traffic, drainage and wildlife concerns, said: “This will be a living hell for existing residents.”

She added: “We feel that this is poorly designed and not conducive to community cohesion. It is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and it will the wrong choice for Colne.”

David Penny, of the Green Party, said that the authority should be considering reusing the borough’s 1,770 empty homes or redeveloping former industrial sites before considering building on valuable wildlife habitats.

Councillors were told that, contrary to popular belief, the site did not have any scientific or biological designation from Natural England or the Environment Department.

And when the council refused similar plans in 2005, it had to pay out £34,000 in costs, after an inspector found it had acted ‘unreasonably’.

Kevin Farrington, Persimmon’s technical director, said the company often redeveloped ‘brownfield’ sites - but it just so happened that this particular greenfield site in question was in their ownership.

But Coun Tony Greaves, proposing a refusal, said government ministers repeatedly claimed it was ‘up to local communities’ to determine where major housebuilding projects should be located.

The final ruling on the Knotts Lane scheme will be made at Nelson Town Hall on December 19.