URBAN explorers armed with spray paint cans have transformed the former Huncoat Power Station into a graffiti paradise.

Some of their work has been described by experts as ‘strong’ and ‘creative’, reclaiming a derelict building for art and the community.

And the work spurs on the national debate over what is art and what is wanton destruction.

But critics have described the graffiti as vandalism and warned that tresspassers were putting their safety at risk.

Shut in 1984, the land has been the subject of a series of failed plans to regenerate it, the latest a waste technology park in 2010.

It is now the haunt of a group of alternative ‘urban explorer’ trespassers armed with spray paint cans and cameras. Critics have been impressed by the graffiti on the remaining office buildings.

While a London expert on street art has given his full backing to the urban explorers.

Tommy Blaquiere, director of London’s West Bank Gallery, said: “This is great. It is reclaiming a disused power station and derelict building for art and the community. The urban explorers at Huncoat have our full support. Good on them.”

Rebecca Johnson, Blackburn council’s arts manager, said: “Some of the graffiti is definitely more than your run of the mill stuff. It is very strong and quite effective. There are some good graffiti artists in the Burnley area and, I suspect, some of it is their work.”

While Nick Hunt, creative director of Burnley-based Mid Pennine Arts said: “Among the ordinary spray paint stuff there are glimpses of some rather creative work. I must go and have a proper look.”

Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson however has called on developers Omega Atlantic to produce a blueprint for the site for office and light industrial use.

Coun Parkinson said he was unimpressed both by the graffiti and the failure of Omega Atlantic’s, who have owned the site since 2001, to come up with plans of their own after blocking the waste technology park.

He said: “We want to see the old power station developed for industry. People are trespassing on the site and it is unsightly and dangerous.”

Katie Dent for the owners said: “The county council spent between 2007 and 2011 trying to acquire the site for their waste plan. We had to fight that. As a result Omega have only been in the position since the start of this year to commence work on the viability of the site. We do not condone illegal trespassing and graffiti.”