VILLAGERS packed a meeting to form a battle plan against 42 houses in Weir.

The Wordsworth Corporation, from Cheshire, was refused permission by Rossendale Council for the development on the former Irwell Springs mill site off Heald Lane.

But the company has appealed against the refusal and it is likely a planning inquiry will be held in Rossendale on June 11.

John Glendinning, chairman of the Weir Lodges and Woodlands Trust which was set up to fight the application and preserve the proposed development land, said: "We can say to the planning inspector that enough is enough.

"We can tell him that there has already been enough development in the village."

At the meeting, Rossendale's planning manager for development control John Haines explained to residents the format for an inquiry and that the council would be standing by its decision to refuse the application.

Officers had initially recommended the application be approved.

But when the plan came to committee, it was refused on density of housing and sustainablity grounds. which are required to be considered under the Government planning guidance policy.

Bill Jenkins, Rossendale branch secretary for the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said his organisation would be objecting.

He said the policy was introduced two years ago and the council should have reviewed its district plan in relation to the allocation of potential housing sites, bearing in mind what the new guidance stated.

He told residents: "If the council had done this, then I believe this site would have been removed from the plan as designated for housing.

"The policy says the availability of previously developed land should be considered for housing where it is accessible for jobs, shops and services other than by car."

He said residents had grounds to object because the development would require most people who bought the houses to use cars, the primary form of transport because of the poor bus service in the village.

Other residents spoke of the difficulty of getting a place for their children in the local school, which is over-subscribed and on to the books of the doctor and dentist.

Mr Glendinning said he was pleased with the number of people who had attended the meeting.

He said he hoped they would send in their personal reasons for the council's refusal to be upheld.

He said: "Some very strong arguments have come forward tonight to support the original decision to refuse the application."