AN 'innovative' scheme to use £500,000 for a 120-place nursery and a new block of flats in a Ribble Valley village has been given the green light.

The plan for Billington, from applicants St Vincent's Housing Association and Oaks from Acorns Private Day Nursery, was approved at a meeting of the borough council in Clitheroe.


The proposal for Elker Lane, which includes 19 two-bedroom apartments for the over 55s, was sparked after the Department of Health gave a grant of half-a-million pounds for the scheme.

Agent Alan Kinder, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the applicants, said it was the first such scheme in Lancashire and was described as 'innovative' by committee member, Coun Bridget Hilton.

However, the plan was criticised by local councillor Ged Mirfin who was allowed to speak at the meeting but not vote after he declared an interest because of the proximity of his house to the proposed site.

Coun Mirfin raised traffic and highway concerns for Elker Lane and nearby Whalley Road if the plan went ahead and called it the 'right application in the wrong place'.

He spoke of his own experiences of traffic in the area including when he was airlifted to hospital last month with a broken leg and head injury after being involved in a collision with a car.

The 45-year-old had been walking with his son Harry, a year six pupil at St Leonard's CE Primary School in Langho, when the accident happened.

He said: "A major highways survey is being conducted by Lancashire County Council and this application should be rejected because that has not been completed yet.

"There are significant concerns amongst residents about this plan and the impact of it on the traffic around Elker Lane and Whalley Road.

"St Augustine's RC High School is against this application and I'm worried about the health and safety of the students.

"I'm concerned that someone else will have an accident in that area and that they will not be as fortunate as I was."

Before the meeting, the council has received three letters of objection from local residents, one of which was from seven residents in five houses.

Coun Sue Bibby, a committee member, said: "I'm concerned about the location of this and the road safety.

"However Billington is a tier one settlement in the core strategy and is capable of more growth."

Coun Hilton said: "This is 100 per cent affordable housing and I think that's very important. The positives far outweigh the negatives."