RESIDENTS fighting a major housing development on patch of open land near their homes have stepped up their fight with a letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

They have also formed a formal Sunnybower Community Group with 170 members, send in dozens of objections to Blackburn with Darwen Council planning department and are raising a petition against the scheme off Whalley Old Road.

Group chairman Iain Sykes has also submitted several complaints about the process and several Freedom of Information requests to the authority as well as contacting local councillors.

Last month a Liverpool architects’ firm submitted a speculative planning application for the new housing estate of 165 detached and semi-detached ‘executive homes’ and affordable properties

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley and Little Harwood and Whitebirk ward's Cllr at McFall said residents' objections would be fully considered by borough officials and members of the council's planning committee when the application is debated in November.

In his letter to Sir Keir asking him to intervene, Mr Sykes of Sunny Bower Road says: "I appeal to you for assistance in a matter involving the needless destruction of greenfield space and a borough council who are not listening to reason."

A report for the planners prepared by community group member Ken Moulden says that the proposed housing estate breaks the council’s planning blueprint, is in an unsuitable location, and will cause traffic problems on an already busy main road.

Mr Sykes said: “So far more than 200 residents have signed the petition. This development is in the wrong place and in breach of the council’s own policies and will destroy open land used by wildlife including deer and bats."

Cllr McFall said: “I will ensure residents’ concerns are considered by the planning committee."

Cllr Riley said: “We have received several complaints and FoI requests from Mr Sykes which officers are dealing with. Residents’ objections will be fully considered by planning officials and councillors at a meeting is set to be in November."