A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build up to 134 homes on greenbelt land in Darwen has been given outline planning permission.
The application for 6.7 hectares of land to the south of Spring Meadows was approved by majority verdict during a meeting of Blackburn with Darwen's planning committee.
The site plan illustrates a 110-unit residential development with a mix of detached and semi-detached and mews-style dwellings and includes provision of an equipped play area. Vehicle access to the site would be via Pool Lane and Spring Meadows.
Objectors had argued that there were more appropriate brownfield sites for development but committee members said the application couldn't be refused on those grounds because it was one of the sites nominated for development under the National Planning Framework.
Objecting, Cllr Neil Slater, who represents the Marsh House, said there were environmental and traffic concerns with the application and called for it to be designated for business use.
Cllr Slater said: "There are plenty of brownfield sites in Darwen that need filling.
"There is no need to build here in this environment. There is deer there. I know that because I grew up there.
"The idea that the roundabout at the bottom will be able to take the increased amount of traffic is ludicrous.
"People will never get out of that junction. There are also other environmental concerns about flooding and the pits.
"It would cause all sorts of problems. We want to attract business people to this borough and attract executive housing but we are damaging the area as we do it."
The council's regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: "The housing market is a commercial market and developers pick the sites that they want.
!It would be completely invalid for us to turn this application down because there are a number of brownfield sites in the area.
trying to save it."
Cllr Jamie Groves said the council's hands were tied by the NPF and described Conservative councillor objections to the plan as 'political grandstanding'.
But Cllr Imtiaz Ali said the Labour-controlled council needed to put more pressure on developers who had already been granted planning permission to start building.

"We would have absolutely no grounds to turn this application down and if we did the applicant would have valid grounds for an appeal, which they would win.
"That whole process would cost the council money in a climate in which we are