Blackburn with Darwen Council's planning blueprint for future development up to 2037 has been approved by councillors despite two objectors turning up to the meeting which rubber-stamped it.

Jackie Copley, from the CPRE The Countryside Charity, and local resident Calista Mullin asked Thursday night's Council Forum meeting to reconsider the release of 94 acres of open land near Guide and Belthorn, close to the M65's Junction 5, from the protected 'Green Belt' development for employment.

They expressed concern over traffic levels and highway safety on the B6232 Grane Road and the impact on nearby moors.

But borough growth boss Cllr Quesir Mahmood rejected their argument before the Local Plan - which proposes locations for 7,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs by 2037 - was passed despite the Conservative group voting against approval.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jackie Copley expressed concernsJackie Copley expressed concerns

The decision follows government planning inspectors giving the document the green light, subject to minor changes which have been incorporated into the final version approved by the meeting.

There has been strong opposition to the proposal to develop the controversial land Green Belt land near Guide, part of which some residents fear may have been used to bury radioactive waste in the past.

Blackburn's billionaire Issa brothers property arm Monte Blackburn Ltd has already submitted a planning application to develop a new "Central 65" business park on 45 acres of the land to create more than 1,000 jobs.

Lancashire Telegraph: Resident Calista Mullin also expressed concernsResident Calista Mullin also expressed concerns

Ms Copley said: "The Grane Road linking to Haslingden has a high accident and fatality record.

"The proposed employment land use would cause high traffic volumes. The local road cannot cope.

"Natural England has also raised objection due to the impact on the West Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest."

Her concerns were echoed by Ms Mullin who said the traffic data on which this part of the plan was based was flawed data, and questioned the need to release the land from the Green Belt.

She said: "This is not deliverable in the long term. Some of the statistics about the level of traffic growth for the Grane Road are very alarming. There's no mitigation in place whatsoever."

Cllr Mahmood said: "The need for a review of the Local Plan is not optional, but a requirement set out by government.

"There are no outstanding objections to the Local Plan from statutory consultees in relation to this employment allocation E179.

"The Planning Inspectors who were independently appointed to examine the plan have concluded our plan to be sound.

"Site E179 is clearly considered deliverable and developable for allocation in the new Local Plan.

"There is no formal objection to the overall soundness of the Local Plan from National Highways, nor to the principle of allocation of the strategic employment site.

"The Planning Inspectors have concluded in their report that there are ‘exceptional circumstances at the strategic level to justify the release of land from the Green Belt to deliver identified employment needs’ around Junction 5.

"The council is therefore fully justified in adopting the Local Plan this evening."

West Pennine ward Conservative Cllr Neil Slater said: "We don't think you have taken on board the concerns of the public. We think some of the things are flawed.

"There is no way the Conservative group can support a forward plan we do not think has taken into account everybody apart from the Issa brothers Inc.

"Normal people don't like it. We do think there are massive gaps in it."

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Phil Riley said: "This is an absolutely monumental piece of work.

"Not every local authority in this part of Lancashire makes such a good job of the local plan.

"Chorley have recently got themselves into terrible trouble, such that they have now had the powers of planning taken off them because they haven't got a local plan.

"This is a really important piece of work. It is far better to have local plan than not to have one."