A COUNCIL has approved plans for a major housing development on a disused mine site despite 81 objections from residents.

Blackburn with Darwen planning committee approved 343 new homes on Bailey’s Field, off Ellison Fold Way in Darwen. The decision comes after months of protests from residents.

The approval was granted following a consultation in which the council say they distributed 1,000 leaflets in November 2020 and received 23 responses; and is subject to a Section 106 Agreement.

The developer will have to pay for improvements to the Blacksnape play area, spend £742,500 on primary school places in East Darwen, by extending St Peter’s CE Primary School; while £642,500 should be secured for completion of the Darwen East Development Corridor highway improvement works, sustainable transport initiatives including subsidised public transport, traffic calming and better pedestrian routes.

Earlier this year, residents formed the Ellison Fold Parkland Association and applied for the site to be considered an Asset of Community Value.

Members were advised the nomination was unsuccessful and was ‘non-material to the assessment and determination of the planning application’ due to the fact the site was within an area formally allocated for housing some 20 or so years ago.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said he was angered that the council had approved the plans. He said: “If this lot of developers and builders change their mind about building on the land, like lots have over the years due to the costs involved, then it needs to be taken off the Local Development Plan for housing allocation, and made into a ‘town green’.

“Housing development has failed on there for decades, not least because of all the hidden mine shafts.”

Over the last few months, a number of disused mineshafts have opened up on Bailey’s Field, which led to residents contacting the Coal Authority in the hope that they would also oppose development on the site.

However, following investigations, the Coal Authority noted that ‘all of the recorded mine shafts present within the site had been positively located’, with a report stating: “All mine shafts identified within this site will be subject to a programme of stabilisation and surface treatment to remove any potential hazardous instability.”

Of the proposed 343 homes, 67 will be grant-funded affordable homes, with land to the north of Ellison Fold Way providing 324 homes and land to the south providing 19 homes.

The northern part of the site is owned by Landeer Investments Ltd with a small portion to east of Ellison Fold Way and the southern part of the application site being council owned.