COUNCILLORS have approved a scheme to allow a farm school used by disadvantaged children to open all year round despite concerns about safety and disturbance.

Pendle Council's Policy and Resources Committee heard how the Harwes Farm Community Interest Company in Foulridge already had a track record of helping youngsters with problems despite only being open 28 days a year.

But it also heard worries from Lindsay and Amelia Bowker from the neighbouring Jerusalem Riding School that allowing it to open all year round would disturb local wildlife and compromise safety on the track down to Skipton Old Road.

A report from Pendle Council planning manager Neil Watson said: "The proposed development is the change of use of the land for educational and camping use alongside the existing agricultural use and erection of a single-storey timber cabin to provide a meeting space for the groups including kitchen, classroom space and bathroom facilities for the campsite.

"The proposed educational use is to teach young people about the countryside and also help them grow personal skills in a non-traditional classroom environment.

"The use has been operating on a limited basis of up to 28 days per year since 2016."

Mr Watson recommended the committee should refuse planning permission on grounds that the site on Cockhill Lane was not readily accessible by public transport, would result in a significant increase in car usage and the proposed accesses did not provide sufficient opportunities for vehicles to safely pass.

Lindsay Bowker said it would be 'irresponsible' to put children in danger on the farm track if activity at Harwes Farm increased and warned that the application could lead to a commercial campsite being established.

Gill Taylor, from the CIC, said the use would be solely educational.

Kirsty Pugh from Barnoldswick's The Alternative School said the farm was invaluable to its work in 'getting children back on track'.

Council leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said the farm reminded him of this happy days at 'camp school' in his youth.

Waterside Liberal Democrat Cllr Tony Greaves urged councillors to back the application as Harwes Farm offered children from urban areas a rare chance to enjoy 'a wild place'.

Cllr Paul Foxley objected saying it could cause a 'potentially catastrophic incident' where the track joined Skipton Old Road.

The committee voted to approve the application, delegating responsibility to Mr Watson to agree watertight conditions on the future use and highway safety of the site.