CAMPAIGNERS were left with a “bitter taste” after controversial plans for 30 homes on the site of a former care home and green space were approved.

Residents living near the old Feniscliffe Bank home had fought to get Applethwaite Homes to reconsider proposals to build 30 houses because of concerns over the loss of vital open space next to the home.

But members of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning and highways committee approved the application.

And Applethwaite bosses say they hope to have the demolition of the “eyesore” former care home completed by Christmas.

Hillcrest Road resident Jack Ellison, who spoke against the development, said: “It is finished now. They are going to build their 30 houses but the residents know that open space has been a feature of the landscape for the last 70 years and it is just sad that it will be gone.

“We have never been against development, all we wanted was to keep the green space and we would have accepted it. It could have been a win-win for the council but we have been left with a bitter taste in our mouths.”

Executive member for growth and regeneration, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “I would suggest that we have tried to meet all the residents’ requirements. In the end, a lot of effort has been made to accommodate the residents and, as was said, there is still 35 per cent of the open space left – that’s quite substantial.

“My view is we have ended up with a reasonable solution and the fairly immediate demolition of an unsightly building.

“We will have a car park which will benefit residents and a significant amount of open space.

“We will also get 30 high-quality new homes in the borough for people who want to buy them. This is a satisfactory outcome of a long and drawn out process.”

Cllr John Pearson said: “For me, this has been a battle royale for the residents over the last two years.

“This is all about getting money in to demolish that building and bring in more council tax."

Dan Matthewman, director of County Planning, said after the meeting: “We’re pleased to have secured this permission for our client which will bring much needed high-quality homes to the area, by demolishing a vacant building which would otherwise continue to be an eyesore and magnet for anti-social behaviour."

Colin Hetherington, managing director for Applethwaite, added: “We have worked closely with our team of consultants and the council to create a development which is respectful of the local area and provides family housing in an attractive and sustainable location.

“We have listened carefully to residents’ concerns about the proposals and wherever possible, sought to resolve them as part of the pre-application consultation and planning process.

“We now look forward to beginning work on site in the coming months, starting with the removal of the derelict nursing home and completion expected in 2021.”