A developer trying to bring 52 homes to a former cotton mill site has been told to go back to the drawing board.

Burnley Council refused a scheme by Mr M Payne for the former Walshaw Mill site on Talbot Street in Briercliffe, with one councillor labelling the scheme a ‘complete non-runner’.

The application was a resubmission of a proposal for the demolition of the old cotton mill buildings that was refused by the council under delegated powers in May 2020.

The proposals were for 34 three bedroom townhouses, 14 three bedroom semi-detached houses and two four bedroom houses.

The majority of councillors voted against it followed the officer’s recommendation as it ‘would result in a degree of harm to the significance of the Harle Syke Conservation Area’.

There were also concerns from local residents and Briercliffe Parish Council about the number of houses planned and effects on infrastructure.

Stephen Hartley, who was the agent for the applicant, said the site had been empty for three years and they believe it would ‘enhance the area’.

He said: “The marketing exercise shows that there is a real possibility that this large site will get run-down and deteriorate for the foreseeable future.

“I think outright refusal would create uncertainty for the future somewhere where there is no commercial interest where the site could be used in any other way."

Cllr Sue Graham, who represents the Queensgate ward, said: “We need to step back and refuse this application and ask the developer to go back to the drawing board to talk to the officers then come up with a better quality scheme.”

She added that there are parts of the buildings are wanting to be kept but it is a balance act and it is a ‘very difficult’ balancing act.

Cllr Marcus Johnstone said it was a ‘complete non-runner’ to approve the application.

He said: “52 properties is too many. Harle Syke is probably over-developed. Can the local infrastructure and education system take that?”

Cllr John Harbour added: “We are refusing this application but they are more than welcome to come back with one that is more than acceptable.”