CONTROVERSIAL plans by Boundary Mill to build a garden centre next to their current site in Colne have been given the go ahead.

A heated meeting at a packed Colne Town Hall heard arguments for and against the scheme, which also include a farm shop and a cafe.

The 9,000 sq metre complex will be built on land between the M65 and Greenfield Road, despite residents' concerns that the building would see trees torn down, the loss of green land and increased traffic.

Councillors voted to allow the development to go ahead, although they blocked plans for a smaller overspill car park close to some homes on open countryside land.

Peter Tooher, from planning agents Nexus Planning, said: “The significant benefits to Colne from this scheme far outweigh the potential impacts.

“It is a unique opportunity to enhance the Boundary Mill offer in retail and underpin the success. It will also create 300 new full-time and part-time jobs, which will be mostly filled by local people.”

Four people spoke about their concerns over the plans during the meeting.

David Penney, chair of the Friends of Greenfield Local Nature Reserve, said: “This will have a detrimental impact upon the ecology of this area because of the trees we could lose.

“There is also wildlife that could be affected, such as deer, bees, newts and bats.”

Margaret Taylor, who used to help at the Titanic in Lancashire museum, said: “The history of Wallace Hartley is very important to Colne and he was born in one of the cottages in Greenfield Road.

“When people have visited that area they have always commented on how beautiful it is and how little it looks to have changed from when Wallace Hartley was alive.”

However councillors said they had little option within planning law but to allow the scheme to go ahead.

Coun Tony Greaves said: “I have been doing my best over the last decade to try and prevent development on this site but I think we have come to the end of the road, we can’t prevent it anymore.”