A GROUP of residents fighting proposals to build 71 new homes on land they use for dog walking and playing were rejoicing on Tuesday, when the plans were thrown out by the council.

More than 82 objections had been put to Rossendale Council to oppose the building of the new homes by Altham-based McDermott Homes, on vacant grassland on Fieldfare Way in Bacup, known locally as the ‘back meadows’.

The planning application was due to go before development control in August but was delayed, and was subsequently omitted from the agenda for the following meeting on October 1.

But at a Rossendale Council development control meeting on Tuesday evening, councillors rejected the proposals, leaving residents celebrating.

Janet Boon, chair of The Pennine/Fieldfare Way Residents’ Association group, said: “It was a great outcome, we are absolutely buzzing.

“The decision was unanimous and our speaker, Rob Wells, did a fantastic job of putting across the issues with badger setts, the ecology and traffic, and the loss of the green space, as did Councillor Andrew Walmsley who spoke in support of our objections too.”

For months, residents have rallied to oppose the proposals, setting up a residents’ association and organising protests and demonstrations in order to try and protect the land that is regularly used as a place for children to play, has a BMX track on it, and is home to wildlife including badgers.

In September a digger appeared on the council owned land, wrecking the children’s BMX track and potentially disturbing active badger setts, leaving residents in uproar at the developers’ decision to plough through the site before planning permission had been granted.

Mrs Boon added: “I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’ve taken my kids to play on the back meadows since they were four or five.

“We need to hold onto this beautiful green space which houses wildlife, plants, and our recreational area, because when all the other surrounding areas identified for building/development have been constructed this is the only land that we can access for recreational use that we will have left.

“There’s no doubt that McDermott homes will appeal the decision but we’ll be ready to fight them and already have plans in place should this happen.”

Councillor Andrew Walmsley said McDermott Homes had only put forward nine properties (21 percent) as affordable housing, but developments of more than eight properties require 30 percent of the homes to be affordable.

Cllr Walmsley said: "These nine houses were also going to be funded by Homes England and not the developers, so we are pleased with the outcome and I'm pleased the committee supported the information I provided."