A MAJOR step towards the the building of 150 new homes in a regeneration area has been taken.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has applied for planning permission to knock down an empty former pub and two blocks of houses so site works can start.

In March it finally managed to buy the final two properties needed for the scheme in Mill Hill to go ahead after seven years of negotiation.

Now the council has asked the borough planning committee for permission to demolish the former Griffin pub on Redlam and numbers 35 to 41 Stansfield Street and 12 to 24 Hancock Street.

The stumbling block in the council’s regeneration plans had been the refusal of the owners of one house in each of the two remaining blocks to sell.

Providing planning permission is granted, work will start later this summer on demolishing the two houses and empty properties next door to them and preparing the ground and provide roads, drainage and other essential utilities in the Griffin Regeneration Area.

The council plans to build 150 affordable homes, both private and rented by social landlord Together Housing.

It already owns the vacant pub premises and the other nine houses in the two blocks.

A second planning application will be needed for the house-building.

Cllr Damian Talbot, whose Mill Hill and Moorgate ward includes the site, said: “I am delighted that this next important step has been reached and that demolition will take place soon.

“The residents of Griffin have been incredibly patient and we all want to see this cleared land developed with quality affordable housing for local people.

“We’ve campaigned for years to ensure the council kept working towards this and it will be good to see physical signs of progress at last.

"These are exciting times for the Griffin area.”

Cllr Phil Riley said: “It has taken a long time to get this site for housing and this application is major step forward to both improving the gateway onto the site and do the remediation necessary to build much-needed homes in the Griffin area.”

The area in Mill Hill has been earmarked for development since 2010.

Phase One will see more than 80 private homes for sale on the site which used to be East Street, Coleridge Street and Bombay Street. The council is now seeking a developer.

Phase Two around Stansfeld Street and Hancock Street will see a slightly smaller development of rented homes by Together Housing.

Cllr Derek Hardman, Conservative regeneration spokesman, supports the scheme.

The council declared a renewal area in Griffin in September 2010 which saw a programme of refurbishment of privately owned homes and the demolition of others using funding from final months of the government’s Housing Market Renewal Programme.

A total of 165 homes were programmed for clearance with the majority purchased by the council between 2011 and 2015.

A grant of £670,000 has been received by the council from the government’s Northern Powerhouse programme pay for the demolition and preparation work.