A TEN-YEAR battle for the redevelopment of the Whitefield Presbytery site in Nelson has moved a step closer being resolved.

Proposals from housing association Great Places to build a modern housing estate on the land are now on the table.

This week, councillors in Nelson have agreed to press ahead with a compulsory purchase order for 24 vacant properties around the Presbytery site, in Mosley Street and Macleod Street, and the fire-damaged Presbytery building from the former St Joseph’s Church.

The council already owns the leasehold to the majority of the properties but needs full freehold ownership to press ahead with the plans.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed, who represents Whitefield ward, welcomed the scheme but said it was essential that a suitable play area for children in the area was included in the plans.

He said: “What people are saying in Whitefield is that we have to get this public realm area right.

“The community needs somewhere for children to play, not some land with some fancy benches.”

Coun Mohammed Iqbal said: “Every councillor in the area has campaigned to take the Presbytery down for the past 10 years so we should take this forward.

“We can ensure there is suitable open space further down the line.”

Brian Cookson, Pendle Council’s director for regeneration, said that Great Places could be keen to start work on the scheme within the next two years.

He said: “It has taken the best part of 10 years to get here and this is the best we are going to get.”

Pendle Council’s executive committee now has to rubber-stamp the compulsory purchase or- der, before a planning application is submitted, probably sometime next year.