NEIGHBOURS fighting proposals to build 71 new homes on land they use for dog walking and playing have sealed another victory.

Land known as the Back Meadows in Bacup has been nominated as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) after residents carried out protests and started petitions to save the green space near their homes.

However, the latest victory could prove to be bittersweet.

Janet Boon, chair of the Pennine/Field Fare Residents Association, which was set up last year in response to the development proposals by McDermott Homes, said it was good news the ACV had been granted, but part of the land is privately owned and has been put up for sale.

Mrs Boon said: “It’s good news to get the Back Meadows registered, but from our understanding the land has three different owners - Rossendale Council, McDermott Homes, and John Pursglove.

“We believe the land owned by Mr Pursglove has already been put up for sale, and was done so less than 72 hours after confirmation of the ACV.

“The council have now given us a moratorium until March 12 to confirm whether we want to submit a bid to buy it.

“They also said if we intend to submit a bid, we’ll have until July 30 to bid for the asset on the open market.

“If we don’t, the owner will proceed with sale of the land.

“We’ve some tight deadlines to work to and in addition, the land owners also have a right to appeal the ACV.

“We’re worried about the previously proposed agreement between McDermott Homes and Rossendale Council for Mr Pursglove’s land, and whether there was an option already in place for McDermott’s to buy the land should he decide to sell.

“If so, this could trigger an exemption on our moratorium and we wouldn’t be allowed to bid.”

More than 82 objections were put to Rossendale Council last year to oppose the development on the vacant grassland by Altham-based McDermott Homes.

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

A Rossendale Council spokesperson said: “Owners are permitted to sell their land to whoever they choose as long as they don’t conclude a sale during a moratorium period.

“The council has not been made aware of any applicable exemptions and has not received an appeal against the listing.”