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Bid fails to stop new Darwen homes plan
SUDELL councillor Paul Browne has failed in a one-man last-ditch bid to scupper a controversial 133-home development between Pole Lane and Spring Meadows, Darwen.
The Liberal Democrat tried to persuade this week’s meeting of borough planners to withdraw permission for the scheme because a deadline to sign paperwork had been missed by the landowners.
But his colleagues ignored his plea and extended the time limit for the completion of agreements to pay more than £100,000 towards off-site affordable housing and public transport improvements from March 25 to June 25.
Coun Browne was the only committee member to vote against the extension but extracted a promise from chairman Jim Smith and borough regeneration chief Dave Harling that if the new deadline was missed, the permission would be withdrawn.
The proposed development, now part of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ambitious plans to build up to 4,000 rural executive homes on the outskirts of the borough, has been a persistent cause of controversy.
Originally rejected by the committee and a government inspector in 2011, it was approved in December with a deadline for the Section 106 agreements to be signed this month and a two-year timetable for completion.
Coun Browne told the committee: “This development is unnecessary and there is no point in setting a deadline to sign agreements if it is missed.”
Coun Harling said: “This is a technical matter concerned with the number of landowners needing to sign the agreements.”
Tory planning spokesman Alan Cottam expressed concerns about delays and possible ‘landbanking’ of the site.
Coun Browne said after the meeting: “I wanted to stop this scheme. We do not need it. I was disappointed I was the only councillor to vote against.
“If they miss it again, I expect the committee to rescind the planning permission as promised.”
Darwen town councillor Simon Hugill said: “The deadline should have been met. It makes the committee look silly.”
Paul Sedgwick, agent for developer Ruttle Plant Holdings, said: “This is simply a technical matter. I hope the agreements will be signed by June and the development completed with- in the two-year-timetable.”
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