COUNCIL plans to redevelop the site of an eyesore former care home for affordable housing can finally go ahead.

Blackburn with Darwen Council began the compulsory purchase order process on the old Laneside home in Shorrock Lane, Mill Hill, last year.

But the council met with opposition from the landowners Oriental Developments Limited and a public inquiry was held to determine whether the CPO could go ahead.

Now government bosses have ruled in the council’s favour following the hearing, which heard evidence from the council's empty properties project manager, Nicola Fox, planning manager Gavin Prescott and strategic development manager Subhan Ali.

Rattan Chand Ghaie appeared on behalf of Oriental Developments Limited.

The facility has been empty for more than 10 years and the council hopes to bring the site back into use as affordable housing.

Cllr Damian Talbot, whose ward Laneside is in, said he was “absolutely over the moon” with the result.

He added: “A number of residents attended the hearing along with myself, which really showed the strength of feeling and the impact of this blight on the local community.

“There has been a lot of work by officers to get to this point.

“It’s fantastic we can move on – this has been a long time coming and it feels like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

It is hoped the council will now take possession of the building by the beginning of August.

Government inspector Cullum Parker said: "In November 2017, there were ongoing negotiations between ODL and a separate party to purchase the property.

"I understand that this was a local landowner company that let or rented properties. This transaction did not occur – with ODL listing the council threat of a CPO as the reason why it did not.

"During my accompanied site inspection, I was able to see inside the building. It was clear that the building has been unoccupied for some time. As a result, there was clear evidence of vandalism and disrepair – for example graffiti on the walls, litter, smoke damage, charred door frames and floors. I was also able to see that a number of windows had been smashed from the outside inwards.

"Internally the building had an abandoned feel, with exposed ceiling beams, peeling wallpaper and paint, smashed walls, hanging wires, missing door frames, exposed down pipes, partially removed bathroom tiles, and partially retained kitchen units in some rooms, for example.

"Whilst the building is standing in structural terms, my site inspection confirmed that the building would require substantial works to render it suitable for even a basic level of accommodation.

"Mr Ghaie indicated during cross-examination that a planning application for converting the building could be submitted ‘the next day’ and that the building was structurally sound – only requiring a few windows to be repaired or re-glazed. However, the latter did not appear to be the case in practice, given the physical state of the building at the time of my accompanied site visit.

"It is also odd that with involvement in the building since at least 2006 (as a partial leaseholder), and having taken the time and expense to acquire the remaining leases and then the freehold, no substantial work has occurred on the building.

"This is a building which has stood vacant for nearly a decade (and therefore would not be providing a direct return on investment). Yet it was only a week before the inquiry opened that the objector discussed through their architect possible plans with the council’s strategic development manager to delay the confirmation of the CPO.

"On balance, I give more credence to the council’s ability to deliver the site within a shorter timeframe.

"It has invested considerable resources in matters both pre- and post-CPO stages.

"I remain unconvinced that if the order was not confirmed, the objector would continue to prioritise the site as they have seemed to do in the week leading up to the inquiry."