Developers have revealed plans for huge business units straddling the side of a busy road in Blackburn.

The 94-acre development is being led by Monte Blackburn Ltd, the property arm of EG Group founders' Mohsin and Zuber Issa's business empire, which has a legal option on the land between Belthorn and Guide.

Developers said the plan's benefits include the creation of 650 jobs but opponents have raised issues including impact on the environment and traffic. 

The proposals are part of the Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council Local Plan which is expected to be formally adopted in January 2024.

A website is now urging local people to get in touch as part of the consultation process on ‘Junction 5 Strategic Employment Site’ and make their views heard about the land off Haslingden Road.

The plans already have proved to be controversial with residents having already held a number of protests and marches over the past two years to protect the valuable green belt area.

According to the website the site will have seven gigantic units, used for general industry, storage and distribution.

Development director at Monte Blackburn Ltd, Alex Kenwright, said "We are working hard with stakeholders to prepare an outline planning application for this exciting scheme and this public consultation exercise is an important part in this process.  

“While we expect to receive some comments reiterating themes that were voiced at the Local Plan Public Consultation, we do hope that the wider economic benefits of the proposal are also recognised, and people engage with us in a positive way."

Online consultation is taking place between 30 October to 12 November.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Monte Blackburn said they had recently completed a letter drop ‘to surrounding residential addresses, have left leaflets in local pubs and the post office and have emailed all councillors and the MP’.

The website says: "An experienced team of consultants have been appointed to assess the site and identify any constraints and opportunities, as demonstrated on the constraints and opportunities plan. 

"The development of the masterplan area will be phased over several years. There is a requirement for certain infrastructure, including highway improvements, to be delivered in a timely and effective manner to mitigate the impacts of the development. 

"Whilst the allocation covers two parcels of land, this masterplan and associated planning applications will only relate to the larger southern parcel of land."

It adds: "Subject to completion of all appropriate technical assessments, we are aiming to submit the outline planning application prior to the end of 2023."

The developers said the plan's benefits will include the creation of 650 jobs in the area, increase in business rates revenue and boost trade for local businesses during the construction phase.

Members of Protect our Greenbelt Guide and Belthorn have been campaigning against proposals to develop 94 acres of greenbelt land near the motorway.

The group - Protect our Greenbelt and Rural Communities - opposes the inclusion of the green fields between Belthorn and Guide.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The campaign, which has its own website, said the proposals 'will have devastating effects on the surrounding wildlife, traffic, the environment and the community.'  

In September, some members of the communities of Belthorn and Guide, submitted a response to the proposed modifications to the Blackburn with Darwen local plan, specifically those that are related to the Junction 5 Strategic Employment Site.

The response raised concerns over traffic flow figures along the B6232 (Haslingden Road) amongst other issues.

It said there are questions which have been raised 'on multiple occasions that have not been dealt with adequately by the agencies involved and feel that there are still important material planning considerations that have not been properly considered within the local plan process'.

The letter to the Planning Inspectorate reads: "There are real concerns regarding any heavy construction taking place. As has been noted throughout the process, the road is bounded on both sides by a Site of Special Scientific Interest and deep peatland.

"We face a significant threat in terms of climate change and destruction of this peatland would be catastrophic."

It adds: "Issues also remain with regards to the nature of the radioactive waste disposal that took place in one of the main mineshafts on the B6232 in the 1950s.

READ MORE: Issa brothers clear first hurdle in bid to develop 'nuclear waste' site

"Should the site allocation proceed, and future structural modification and engineering works to widen the road to add to capacity become necessary, inevitable movement of material and likely damage will be caused.

"If this happens, local people would understandably campaign in the strongest terms in all media to persuade central government as this risk of radioactive contamination and degradation of protected habitat should be avoided.

"We maintain our position that there is a distinct lack of foresight and forward planning that is not fully considering the impact that a 94-acre industrial site would have on the area."

In April last year, residents marched from Belthorn to Blackburn Town Hall to highlight their concerns.

Then in June, "The Big Ramble" attracted people of all ages who trekked around the fields and footpaths of Belthorn and Guide to create awareness of the wildlife and the countryside that would be affected by any development.

Anyone with questions or comments with regards to the development proposal can e-mail Alternatively, you can post comments to: Central65, Waterside Head Office, Haslingden Road, Blackburn, BB1 2FA. 

People wishing to comment are asked to do so before 1 December, 2023.