A DEVELOPER who wants to demolish 30 old garages and build new homes on land behind terraced homes in an East Lancs villages claims he has been subjected to racist comments from some objectors.

Zeshan Ali, of Carr Road, Barrowford, wants permission to demolish old garages on land behind terraced house in Hamilton Road, Barrowford, and to build seven new homes.

His planning application to Pendle Council began last year and has been changed with the number of proposed new homes reduced.

The latest version was recommended for approval by Pendle Council planning officers but the Barrowford and Western Parishes area committee voted to defer the application and called for the land behind Hamilton Road to be tested for stability.

The councillors decision came amid reports a digger vehicle sank into nearby land many years ago.

Objectors are unhappy about the size and design of the planned new homes, flooding, 'tight' car parking spaces and the protection of bats, which some claim live in the old trees.

Mr Ali told the committee: "People say there are bats at the site but no evidence has been submitted. They have had over eight months to provide evidence.

“Regarding flooding, I have had reports by experts...which would address any issues."

He also said the ash trees on the site were old and "no longer given protection orders".

Mr Ali added: "The only real problem is residents cannot see anything else for this site. The residents’ leader does not live in this area. And I have had racist comments chucked at me. Residents will only speak to me if there is no application.”

Susan Nike, a Barrowford parish councillor, said: “We think the site is completely unsuitable for that many new homes. We were stunned that approval was being recommended by officers.

“There are also mature trees there, some of which have protection orders. In my experience, developers wait until it’s a Sunday morning then down they [the trees] come or they destroy the tree roots, which can’t be detected.”

Planning officer Laura Barnes said the application complied with planning policies. It was classed as a brownfield site and was within settlement boundaries.

She said: “We have to weigh-up any harm to the conservation area with the benefit that new homes would bring. New homes would add to the local supply."

Cllr Brian Newman said: "I lived nearby many years ago. I remember a digger vehicle and some foundations sinking into the land. It took months to get it out. And it took 12 months before they could re-start work. The site needs bore hole tests to see how stable the land is."

Borough councillors on the committee voted to defer the application for land tests.

Mr Ali said: “I will respect the committee’s decision to defer but I do feel I am being messed about. ”