A Blackburn golf course's £1 million remodelling project has sparked fears over the felling of dozens of trees.

Pleasington Golf Club is being redeveloped with the refurbishment of tees, bunkers and greens as well as heathland restoration, irrigation upgrades, the installation of beehives, the improvement of two quarries to encourage the return of sand martins, and other ecological enhancements.

Rated as one of the North West's finest inland courses, the project aims to restore the historic club to its former glory.

However the felling of dozens of trees for the six-year project has alarmed some local councillors and residents.

Removing trees on courses helps to improve the course and woodland condition, while also improving the playability of holes and restored angles the original course architects intended, while making the course more manageable for weaker players and more challenging for better golfers.

Lancashire Telegraph: Some of the felled trees at Pleasington Golf ClubSome of the felled trees at Pleasington Golf Club

Mark Bleasdale, the general manager of Pleasington Golf Club, said this was part of a Forestry Commission-approved thinning scheme to improve the health of the woodlands on the course which straddles Blackburn with Darwen and Chorley boroughs.

He added that and eventually between 4,000 and 6,000 trees will be felled around the property, with new trees also planted in other areas.

Livesey with Pleasington Conservative Councillor, Derek Hardman, said: "I know many residents are unhappy about the number of mature trees that have been chopped down.

"I believe they are remodelling the golf course but why are they having to remove so many trees?

"I have asked Blackburn with Darwen Council to look into it to see if any rules have been broken."

Lancashire Telegraph: Removing thousands of trees will actually improve the health of woodlands at the courseRemoving thousands of trees will actually improve the health of woodlands at the course

His ward colleague, Cllr Mark Russell, added: "I'm disappointed at the loss of so many healthy trees.

"Pleasington is a fantastic course and the trees are a valued part of its character."

Explaining the felling programme as part of course improvements and restoration, Mr Bleasdale said: "We appointed Ken Moodie, a golf course architect who specialises in restoring rare areas of heathland, to try and bring back the course’s original look and design.

"The woodland management plan agreed with the Forestry Commission brought a much-needed proactive approach to tree management.

"Too many trees in the same space are unhealthy, as they all compete for the same light and never develop a full canopy.

Lancashire Telegraph: Pleasington is one of the North West's best inland linksPleasington is one of the North West's best inland links

"As such the club was required to start proactively managing the woodlands.

"A five-year thinning licence was granted by the Forestry Commission for the whole site in 2021, aiming at removing 20 to 30 per cent of the 20,000 or so trees to improve the woodlands' health.

"Hundreds of new trees have also been planted in areas away from fine turf.

"The club has invested nearly £20,000 into a bore hole to feed its irrigation system, and two large ponds which had become very overgrown and lifeless are being reborn.

"The course is now four and half years into its six-year redevelopment, with three holes being restored each year, and the course is once again being recognised as one of the finest in the North West.

Lancashire Telegraph: Around a quarter of the course's 20,000 trees will be removedAround a quarter of the course's 20,000 trees will be removed

“Pleasington’s course is renowned for it’s natural beauty, amazing views, heather and wild heathland feel.

"We feel we are once again restoring that, whilst also making the course more sustainable.”

Dave Thornber, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s arboricultural officer, said: The only involvement the planning authority has had is in relation to works to the protected trees opposite properties on Links Lane – removal of four dead ash trees, and works to a sycamore.

"Other tree works have been carried out on the course. The golf club does have a felling tree licence with the Forestry Commission."