A GROUP of Blackburn residents asking for the official protection of a field near their homes to be renewed quizzed borough bosses over its future.

The Whitehall Road Neighbourhood Forum want the green space in Revidge to again be designated as ‘local green space’.

It made an application for the 3.5 acres of open land to be re-nominated for protection in the next Blackburn with Darwen Local Plan after it was suggested as suitable for development as affordable homes last year.

Whitehall Road field is one of three sites in the borough being looked at by Great Places Housing Association.

Now the forum has submitted an application for the 2015 ‘local green space’ designation to be repeated in the new plan.

A petition was also submitted to Blackburn with Darwen Council, and members of the forum grilled borough growth and development boss Cllr Phil Riley at an executive board meeting.

The application says the field, council-owned since 1925, supports a wide variety of wildlife from birds, including tawny owls and kestrels, to newts and bats and visiting roe deer.

Forum spokesman Tony Hopwood said: “This is a much-loved and much-used haven of tranquillity for local people and critical to their health and well-being. We want to ensure it stays that way. The forum will take on its maintenance.”

Cllr Riley said: “The site is currently designated as green infrastructure in the local plan 2015.

“The council is reviewing the site as part of the ongoing draft local plan process.

“This process will consider whether the site remains as green infrastructure or is suitable for a small housing scheme.

“The findings will be made available alongside the draft local plan which will be considered for adoption later in 2020.

“People will be encouraged to attend the public inquiry held by the planning inspectorate into the local plan.”

Cllr Riley said the group could also explore having the land designated as an asset of community value in order to protect it from development.

He added: “This petition brings to the council’s attention the fact that there is a lot of concern from residents about this particular piece of land.

“The draft local plan will be published in the autumn time and there will be a series of consultation meetings as well as the public inquiry where people can make their observations felt.”