AN overgrown town centre plot of land is to become a new housing estate complete with its own 'hedgehog highway'.

Hyndburn Planning Committee on Wednesday passed the scheme to build 53 new homes on two 'eyesore' vacant plots of land either side of Britannia Street in Great Harwood.

The approval includes condition on developer Keepmoat Homes to ensure that 'all external boundary structures, inclusive of fences and walls, must be made fully permeable to hedgehogs through the provision of 13 by 13 centimetre gaps at regular intervals (every 30 to 40 metres) across the whole development site'.

It also has a requirement to keep the area around the chimney of the old St Lawrence's Mill as green space because of the presence of the culverted Harwood Brook underneath.

The tall structure is used by telecoms companies who will maintain it.

Cllr Noordad Aziz, who represents Great Harwood's Netherton ward, said after the meeting: "This is a good result.

"It is an eyesore site. I am very pleased that hedgehog highways is included. It is a welcome biodiversity gain."

The conditions on the planning permission also include tree protection measures; the installation of bat boxes, bird boxes and bee bricks and protection for nesting birds.

They propose to construct 11 two-bedroomed homes, 39 houses with three bedrooms and three four-bedroomed properties on the three acres of cleared land, previously used for industrial purposes, having mill buildings located on the site as far back as 1895.

Committee chairman Cllr Judith Addison said: "It is a piece of land that's rather a mess and needs something doing to it."

Hyndburn Council planning manager Simon Prideaux told Wednesday's meeting: "The site is currently derelict and overgrown. It is low grade land tucked away behind Great Harwood town centre."

The borough's leader Cllr Miles Parkinson told councillors: "This is a brownfield site. It is ideal for housing development."

The committee agreed to a condition requiring a £44,507contribution from Keepmoat Homes to be spent on nearby open space provision for use by the residents of the estate.