PLANS to cut back on the storage of hazardous chemicals at a site in Church could open the area up for development.

For years, development around Church has been hampered by the manufacturing and storage of hazardous chemicals including chlorine at William Blythe Ltd in Bridge Street.

But the firm applied to Hyndburn Council proposing changes to its hazardous substance consent.

And once the lengthy process is finally approved it will mean more land around the site is able to be developed.

Planning and transportation manager Simon Prideaux said: “This application for a hazardous substance consent is significant because the applicant is no longer proposing to manage chlorine at the site.

“The storage and management of chlorine at Blythe's Chemicals is the main reason why the Health and Safety Executive imposed a consultation zone around the site that effectively limits the scale of development that can take place within the three zones.

“The Health and Safety Executive has indicated that the changes proposed are likely to result in a significant reduction in size of the consultation zone.

“However, the consultation zone cannot be reduced in size, or removed, until the relevant consents have been formally revoked by the Secretary of State.

"The applicant has cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive and the council in the preparation of this application for Hazardous Substance Consent, and the associated legal agreement, that should pave the way for the revocation of the old hazardous substance consents.”

Cllr Jean Battle said: "Blythe's has been a part of Church for going on for 150 years - they were the mainstay of employment.

"For years we could not build anything like houses or options so when this goes through, it opens up endless opportunities.

"We have been stifled in all sorts of ways and this will bring an end to that."

Cllr Miles Parkinson added: "In a way, Blythe's has been an integral part of Church and Hyndburn.

"It has been a major employer and we have to acknowledge their success.

"Times have changed and where these sort of plants should be located has changed.

"It has been a blight on the region, that part of the borough and over the 25 years I have served this council, the zoning of this area has stopped any sort of development.

Mr Prideaux told members of the council's planning committee the process to chance the consent and open up opportunities for development could take up to a year to complete.