Controversial plans for a new 477-home housing estate on the site of a former school look set for approval at a council meeting tomorrow.

The development on 45 acres of land at the former Darwen Moorland High School, which has been shrouded in controversy since it was first proposed, has been recommended for approval by planning officers ahead of Thursday's meeting of Blackburn with Darwen Council's Planning and Highways Committee.

Ward councillors have said local roads are unfit to cope with the increase in traffic and there are insufficient school places nearby.

If approved, the development will have 477 houses with public open space, landscaping, three ponds, new parking associated with the Square Meadow sports pavilion, additional parking off Knowle Lane, and new vehicle access points off Holden Fold, Moor Lane, and Roman Road, while the demolition of existing stable buildings will also take place.

Planning officers have recommended councillors at Thursday's Planning and Highways Committee approve the application, subject to a Section 106 agreement to secure payment of close to £3,500,000 for additional primary school places in Darwen, secondary school and special needs places across the borough; highways improvement works, and sustainable transport initiatives.

The plans said: “The proposed development would deliver a range of high quality, high specification homes for the local community in a sustainable location.

“The site comprises of pastoral agricultural fields and the site of the former Darwen Moorland High School. The school closed in 2008 and the buildings were demolished in 2016.

“The site will be developed in a way that creates its own sense of place and identity.

“The proposed development scheme seeks to provide 477 new high-quality family homes comprising a mix of two, three, and four-bed detached, semi-detached, and terraced properties.

“There will be 101 two-bedroom properties, 247 three-bedroom properties, and 129 four-bedroom properties.

“It is proposed that publicly accessible informal open space is provided comprising amenity green space, green infrastructure, and play space.”

Sport England initially objected the plans on account that the proposed site layout would encroach onto football pitches and reduce the extent of the playing field.

However, this element of the proposal has been amended and the original boundary reinstated to ensure no loss of playing fields.

Sport England added the additional population generated by the new development, around 1,440 residents, would increase demand for sports facilities in the borough, and are requesting a total contribution of £893,858 to meet the demand.

Cllr Denise Gee (Conservative, Blackburn South and Lower Darwen) has opposed the plans, and even organised a march to the town hall in protest at housing plans in the area.

She has said previously: "Residents are concerned about the lack of infrastructure - roads, schools and health care - for this massive housing estate.

"These must be addressed in the planning process for this scheme."

Councillors will make their final decision at the meeting on Thursday, November 16.