COUNCILLORS have been asked to decide whether a controversial new block of flats in a town centre can go ahead.

Saadat Khan has applied to Pendle Council for planning permission to construct a three-storey building housing 18 studio apartments on vacant land next to the former Spiritualist Church in Vernon Street, Nelson.

The site was previously occupied by a large stone building which burnt down and been demolished leaving the land empty and unkempt.

The former church is now a community centre.

The proposal produced dozens of objections from nearby residents.

It was recommended for approval with conditions by planning officers when it went before the Nelson Committee of Pendle Council earlier this month.

It decided to refer the application to the borough’s ruling policy and resources committee made up of senior councillors on Thursday June 25.

A supporting statement by Lumitekton Ltd says: “The land is now stood empty and disused for a number of months and appears unsightly.

“ The site is surrounded by residential dwellings which mainly of Victorian terraces.

“The applicant is applying for outline planning permission to construct a three-storey building with dormers to the sides of the roof creating habitable rooms in the roof space.

“The proposed residential building is considered as an appropriate use to the existing character of the area which makes efficient use of the land.”

The planning officer's report says: “The site is currently in a rundown condition with dumped building rubble and fly tipped household waste on it.

“The indicative plans submitted show the proposed building to have similar proportions when related to the previous building.

“Those plans sufficiently demonstrate that the site could accommodate a three-storey building of 18 apartments whilst also retaining a certain level of open space.”

Their report reveals that while some residents were concerned that the site was an eyesore with dumped rubbish many submitted letters of objection.

The included concerns about parking; highway safety; loss of light and privacy; the impact on schools, nurseries, the lack and healthcare facilities; the size of the building; drainage; land stability; and noise.

Objectors also said Nelson had an abundance of vacant homes.

Pendle Council leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, a member of Nelson Committee and chair of policy and resources, said: “It was referred because it is an unusual building for the area and there were many objections, several saying it was inappropriate.”