The fight to protect a piece of land from being bulldozed for new housing continued this week after residents created a Community Interest Company, and took their concerns to a town council meeting.

On Tuesday night, people living in Darwen attended the virtual Darwen Town Council meeting, with Darrener Mark Radnedge speaking on behalf of the newly formed not-for-profit CIC, set up to protect Bailey's Field off Ellison Fold Way, which has been earmarked for a 343 residential housing estate.

Baileys Field in Darwen

Bailey's Field in Darwen

Mr Radnedge asked the council, particularly those who also sit on Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council's planning committee, for the chance to raise funds to purchase the land, which they have also nominated as an asset of community value (ACV).

Darwen residents continue fight over Bailey's Field by applying for 'official protection'

He said: "Bailey's Field has been in use as a park for more than 50 years and is recognised by residents as a valuable open space within walking distance of their homes.

"It's a unique example of where an area of land directly furthers the social well-being and social interests of the local community, and it's reasonable to assume that it will continue to do so in the future.

"It is where children can have real adventures, and can engage in active play, freely.

"Families can have outdoor experiences together, and people can meet in an open space, as recommended by central Government in these uncertain, Covid-19 pandemic times."

The mineshaft on Baileys Field in Darwen has attracted a lot of attention over the last week. Credit: Northern Monkeys

The mineshaft on Baileys Field in Darwen has attracted a lot of attention over the last week. Credit: Northern Monkeys

Mr Radnedge told the town council that the recreational use of the area helped to relieve many of the ailments people have suffered throughout the last year, and an online petition had even been set up to gather support to save the field, which he compared to areas such as Sunnyhurst Woods and Blackburn's Corporation Park.

He continued: "Almost 1,000 people have signed the petition to save Bailey’s Field, as it is recognised as a valued community asset by all of these residents.

"Would the planning committee decide to build on Sunnyhurst Woods or Corporation Park? No.

"But this is what residents feel is happening to Bailey’s Field - it feels like our park is going to being built over."

Mr Radnedge also raised the issue of mineshafts on the site, stating many of the ventilation shafts may have been missed from land surveys, which could cause future problems for developers.

Baileys Field in Darwen

Bailey's Field in Darwen

He added: "The number of mineshafts across this area run into double figures. Some have known locations. Some do not.

"The colliery owners did not keep maps of all the shafts, including many of the ventilation shafts, which are much harder to find due to the nature they have been filled in, and could therefore be missed by the ground survey work.

Darwen's mineshaft-ridden field could become 'community asset' as residents plough on with protection fight

"If development did proceed, the developer could be contravening Coal Authority guidelines, which state: 'building over, or within the influencing distance, of a mine entry, raises significant safety and engineering risks, and exposes all parties to potential financial liabilities, and as a general precautionary principle, should wherever possible be avoided.'

"They all need to be capped, locations marked and a 20m building exclusion zone placed around them.

"All we are asking is that the town council contacts the borough council, and tells them we deserve a community bid for Bailey’s Field, and that it's an important and valued community asset.

"Only then will we feel our needs have been taken seriously and consulted properly."

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Town Councillor Dave Smith, who also sits on the borough council's planning committee, said many of the residents were under the impression the land was council owned, when 75 per cent of it is actually privately owned.

Ellison Fold Way

Ellison Fold Way

He said: "If the land owners have decided to sell, the council can't do anything.

"Plus, the residents seem to think that if the ACV nomination is granted then this will save the land, but it won't, it will only delay any decision for six months.

"In that six months the group has time to raise the funds to match the developer's offer, which is probably going to be seven figures.

"They would then need to go to the land owners with their offer to buy the land.

"It would be my suggestion that the group speak with the landowners first, rather than thinking the council can solve everything."

In 2015, The Dog Inn at Belthorn was saved from development by villagers, after they were granted an ACV for the pub, and managed to raise £180,000 to buy the building that had stood in the area for more than 300 years.

Residents in Darwen would therefore need to follow in Belthorn Villager's footsteps if they are to stand a chance of saving their beloved Bailey's Field.

For more details visit:

To object to the planning proposals email Gavin Prescott on:

To sign the petition, visit: