SURPRISE plans have been proposed which could see the Blue Lagoon filled in and redeveloped.

The lagoon, officially known as Ward's Reservoir, has been a popular beauty spot in Belmont since the 1800s.

However, locals in Belmont were told at a public meeting on Tuesday that, given the cost of making the it compliant with safety regulations, an independent specialist had given the owner the options of either breaching the dam and allowing the lagoon to return to nature or to fill in the reservoir.

Parish Councillor Keith Harrison said: "It's premature to say which, but its believed the owner is favouring the infill option."

"He has said that's his preferred option but there's nothing to work with until he brings his proposal to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council."

Cllr Harrison said that the owner could potentially be planning to develop the area into a fishing lodge, but that concerns remained about the amount of traffic the work would create.

Meanwhile Blackburn with Darwen Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Riley confirmed any proposals would have to go through several stages.

He said: "These plans will first go through the Environment Agency who will take the decision.

"If that is the case then ultimately it will go through us as the planning authority."

Blue Lagoon Heritage Ltd first took ownership of the reservoir in a deal believed to be worth £50,000 in September 2010.

The lagoon had been drained by previous owner, Belmont Holdings, that May in order to avoid being penalised by the Environment Agency, but it quickly filled up with rainwater again.

Cllr Jean Rigby, who represents the area as part of the West Pennine ward said: "It would be tragic if they're going to fill it in totally, I can't see what they're hoping to do with it."

She added: "I know for a fact that there is considerable feeling from the residents about the number of vehicles that will be moving up and down that tiny little lane.

"From what I can gather they're really, really unhappy about that."

The plans were first brought up at a meeting of the Belmont Village Residents Association on September 14.

A local resident said: "The whole business has been dropped like a bombshell over the last week."

"There were rumours about it and the owner had already started to do remedial work on it but it was a shock when it was announced at a public meeting on Monday."

The man believes the decision to be financially motivated.

He said: "The 1975 Reservoirs act says that they have to meet certain standards.

"To meet those standards would cost a hell of a lot of money so instead the owner has decided to go down the road of filling it in."

He added: "They're not happy about it, its going to take about 20,000 wagon loads to fill it in and they're all going to have to pass by the Black Dog on Church Street."

"We don't know the full event of what the owner intends to do, we know he intends to fill it in but we don't know what's going to happen after that."

The Environment Agency has said formal plans have not yet been lodged.