CONSERVATIVE councillors have demanded to know why progress on a key 'spine road' for a major development of 450 homes has stalled.

The highway link is part of the redevelopment of the former Sappi Paper Mill site in Feniscowles in Blackburn.

Work started on the housing development in Livesey Branch Road known as ‘Watermills’.

It is scheduled to provide 450 homes,four industrial units and a link road between Moulden Brow and Livesey Branch Road.

But so far no planning permission has been granted for the key highway.

Now Livesey with Pleasington Tory councillors Mark Russell, Derek Hardman and Paul Marrow have written to Blackburn with Darwen Council chief executive and growth boss Cllr Quesir Mahmood to demand progress and to know why the delay.

Their letter says: "Planning application 10/18/1191 for the Sappi site spine road was submitted on January 8 2019.

"The application has remained in limbo ever since.

"Government policy says no planning application should spend more than a year with decision makers. Yet this planning application remains undetermined well over four years after it was submitted.

"This spine road is vital to the Livesey area because of all the new housing in the area.

"Even with a completed spine road, the junction of Livesey Branch Road and Preston Old Road is forecast to be over-capacity.

"The spine road was supposed to be complete and in use by December 2022.

"We therefore request you determine this application as a matter of urgency.

"The longer the spine road planning application is allowed to linger in limbo the less likely it becomes that the spine road will be built."

A Blackburn with Darwen Council spokeswoman said: "Government guidance is in place to help ensure that planning applications are not excessively delayed.

"It also allows for extensions of time to be agreed between local authorities and applicants, as is the case here.

"A substantial amount of work is taking place by the council and the landowners to secure positive progress.

“The original target for completion of the road was December 2022, however the development has not progressed at the rate anticipated for many complex reasons, including the global pandemic. Last year, the council’s planning and highways committee agreed to a revised target date of December 2024.

“All parties have agreed that further detail regarding the design of the road is necessary and therefore it would not be appropriate to determine the application as it stands. To determine it now would significant delay the scheme.

“The intention is for the infrastructure to be provided by the developer.

"A completion date will be agreed when the design work has progressed.”