AN APPEAL has been launched over controversial plans for nine new homes in a rural Darwen site.

Blackburn with Darwen planning and highways committee members last year threw out proposals to build nine new homes on land off Moorthorpe Cottage in Park Road.

They agreed with campaigning residents that the roads around the development were too narrow and proposals to cut down protected trees were unacceptable.

The application had been deferred previously after members asked for more information about the width of access roads.

But now developers have lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate in a bid to overturn the council’s decision and allow the development to go ahead.

Residents living nearby the proposed development raised a number of concerns with the council as part of a consultation into the original application, with more than 40 letters of objection received.

Among the issues raised were insufficient access and poor visibility on surrounding roads, as well as potential damage to the habitat of any wildlife near the proposed development.

Resident Clare Starbuck said: “My elderly mother lives in the family home which is next to where this development would go.

“My parents, as everyone else in the area, were oblivious to this land being included for housing in the local plan.

“This would have had a damaging impact on the landscape.

“The roads are too narrow, there is no streetlighting and the sightlines are poor.”

She added access to the development site from Park Road would be a problem and added hard landscaping proposals would see the removal of valuable flora and fauna, as well as protected species, from the area.

She said: “There’s badgers and deer up here, and there’s breeding bats too.

“There are tree preservation orders on a lot of the trees, most of which soak up water. Take away the trees and the rain water will run down into the neighbouring houses, causing the ground to become like a swamp.

“The council said only a few trees would be chopped down, but there’s around 30 on that site, all of which would need to come down if they were going to build.”

Government planning inspectors are now seeking written representations from interested parties, including the council and the developers.

A decision will be taken once the deadline for representations has passed on

Speaking at the meeting where the application was refused, Cllr Jane Oates said: “We all wanted a bit more time to have a look at this proposal. I have been up to the site three times now and looked at the access road as well as the ancient woodland and I don’t think any of us would be happy with this development at all.

“It would be nine large houses and to me, it’s not a small scale development.”

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Dave Smith, added: “I don’t think any of us could say this is very small scale with no loss of trees or woodland.”

Cllr Smith said the application was refused on the grounds that the scale of development was disproportionately large, as well as the unacceptable loss of protected trees.