SENIOR councillors are set to approve a controversial sale of land to a developer for houses despite 60 objections from neighbours.

On Thursday, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board is recommended to back the transfer of the land at Lomond Gardens and off Old Gates Drive to McDermott Homes.

The proposal was put on hold in May last year after it sparked a storm of protest from nearby householders over the loss of a rare piece of open space in Blackburn.

They also objected to plans to use Old Gates Drive to access the new 29-home estate and have protested at council work to upgrade a culvert on the land.

Now the executive board has been recommended to approve the transfer of the site to the developer after assurances from McDermott Homes that access will be from Lomond Gardens and Green Lane and the land will be retained as public open space.

Part of the site was used by St Bede’s Roman Catholic High School as an all-weather sports pitch until 1997 and is to be transferred from educational to housing use.

Residents' leader Kevin Allcock said: “We are still opposed to this. We do not trust the council or the developer. This is all financial and the assurances are hogwash.”

The report to the board says: “The developer has now proposed the site access point to be from Lomond Gardens, which satisfactorily addresses most objections.

“Construction traffic will now access the site from Green Lane.

“The council has assessed that given the sporadic use of the pitch, it can be better used to provide additional new housing, for which there is a need in the borough. In addition, the development will now retain and enhance the public open space at Old Gates and include the future maintenance of this land within the landscape management proposals for the housing scheme.

“The development of new homes is likely to bring a positive contribution to the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area.”

Cllr Phil Riley, the council’s growth boss said: “The are now no plans to use the controversial piece of open land for the development. The improvements to the culvert were a good piece of work to protect neighbouring properties from potential flooding.”