TWO householders have refused to sell their properties holding up a long-delayed major new homes scheme.

The owners in Hardman Street, Blackburn, have declined council offers to buy.

Now town hall bosses will move to make compulsory purchase orders so the building of 151 new homes can go ahead as planned although the process can be long and costly.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's Executive Board has been asked to authorise the move on Thursday night so phase two of the Griffin regeneration scheme can go ahead.

Conservative group regeneration spokesman Cllr Paul Marrow said: "If it needs to be done it needs to be done. But this is a last resort at a very late stage. This should have been sorted before now."

Since 2008 the council has been buying properties by agreement in the area as well as The Griffin pub for demolition.

Bolton construction firm Seddon Partnerships hope to complete 56 new affordable homes for Great Places Housing Association in phase one of the scheme around Hancock Street and Stansfeld Street between Mill Hill and the town centre later this year.

The council hopes the second stage of the regeneration of the former Griffin estate - which involves building a further 85 two, three and four-bedroomed family homes on land around Coleridge Street and East Street- soon afterwards.

Failure to buy the last two houses could lead to council having to pay back grants to the government, and compensate Seddon and the owners of homes already purchased.

A report by Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley says: "A neighbourhood assessment of the Griffin regeneration area undertaken during 2008 identified 165 properties of very poor quality for purchase and clearance.

"To date, the council have purchased 163 properties by agreement and on numerous occasions has attempted to enter into negotiations with owners of the remaining properties at 24, 26 Hardman Street and the car repair workshop adjoining 26 Hardman Street, Blackburn, without success.

"To ensure that the required land assembly is completed within the required time, the council considers having exhausted all other options and as a last resort, to now make a compulsory purchase order to acquire the remaining properties."

Cllr Damian Talbot, who represents Mill and Moorgate ward, said: "This unfortunate but necessary."