A DECISION is to be taken on controversial plans for new affordable homes in Pendle.

A 65-signature strong petition was lodged against proposals to build 79 new homes on land off Harrison Drive in Colne.

And the outcome of the application will be determined at a special policy and resources committee meeting next week.

People opposed to the scheme say it would result in the loss of vital open space in an area where it is already at a premium.

The application site is an area of grass that is surrounded by housing on all four sides.

It has in the past been used for informal recreation as well as football matches. The formal use of the site ceased circa 12 years ago.

The site has since not been used for any formal activities but has been used for informal recreation.

Case officer Neil Watson said: "The site formerly was used for organised football but that ceased over 10 years ago. It is classified as open space in the last Open Space Audit and is now used for informal recreation, mainly by dog walkers.

"The land itself consists of unkempt overgrown grass but has a number of informal paths crossing it. There are styles in three out of the four corners allowing people to walk across the land.

"There is a general presumption in policy not to reduce green spaces without compensatory measures elsewhere or justifying that the open space is no longer needed.

"The site sits in close proximity to Alkincoats Park and the sports pitches associated with Colne Football and Rugby Clubs.

"The land has not been identified as being needed for sports purposes in the Pendle Playing Pitch Strategy produced jointly including with Sport England.

"The land is overgrown, and mainly used for either walking across or for exercising dogs. It does not serve a specific purpose and is surplus to current requirements."

As part of the petition and individual letters of objection, further concerns have been raised about congestion along Harrison Drive, destruction of wildlife habitat for endangered species including hedgehog, toads and bats, and the need to knock down an existing family home to make way for an access road.

And some objectors say the proposal will result in increased noise, air and light pollution, while concern has been expressed the development would devalue nearby houses.

If the proposal is approved, developers will be asked to fork out £110,864 towards health provision while a further £120,925 in education contributions will be requested by Lancashire County Council's schools planning team.