AN IMPASSIONED plea by Hyndburn Council's leader to grant permission for a 122-home development which he said could help halt the decline in Accrington's population fell on deaf ears.

Cllr Miles Parkinson said the population had fallen from 45,000 in its' heyday to 35,000 by the 2011 census.

And he said action needed to be taken to try and stimulate growth.

But planning committee members voted to turn down permission for the controversial development at the site of Devine Fisheries off Broad Oak Road between Baxenden and Accrington.

Dozens of objections had already been received against the proposal on land off Broad Oak Road, which included 50 three-bed homes, 43 four-bed homes and 29 properties available under affordable housing provisions.

Fears were raised about the impact the development would have on wildlife in the area as well as traffic problems and pressures on schools in the area.

Members cited fears over loss of green space and converting a rural part of Hyndburn into an urban area.

Cllr Parkinson said: "We are in decline. The responsibility of us as a council is to stop that decline and give some hope.

"We have to be realistic about developments. We live in a part of the country with the cheapest housing in England.

"We need to think about how we are going to readdress the decline of Accrington.

"This is not in a rural area, it is former scrubland and an old tip.

"The lakes are concrete reservoirs built for industrial purpose.

"We have intervened in the town centre but we need properties and we need jobs so I would recommend that you approve this because otherwise you will simply end up revisiting it."

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Eamonn Higgins said: "Hyndburn needs employment and to support that, it needs housing.

"Potentially this is a £30million development in our borough."

Baxenden resident Peter Holden, speaking against the application, said: "Of the scores of people I have spoken to, not one has thought this development is a good idea.

"The proposed access road is right through the middle of a natural nature reserve.

"Do we have to concrete over everything before we realise what we have lost?"

Chief planning and transportation officer, Simon Prideaux, added: "We believe this site is in a rural area and the policies the council has adopted don't support developments of this scale."

The site was historically part of the Broad Oak Printworks and features two remaining reservoirs used for fisheries, as well as two redundant landfill sites.

More than 60 representations were received from members of the public citing concerns over the development.

As well as traffic and wildlife fears, people complained the site is used by children and walkers and claimed parking provision was inadequate.