CAMPAIGNERS have lost their battle to save a community centre from being bulldozed.

Children and parents staged a protest march from the play centre in Glebe Street to Burnley Town Hall in an attempt to stop the plans.

But councillors at the planning committee meeting on Thursday night gave the work the green light.

Former mayor Coun Roger Frost questioned why four homes could not be removed from a proposed 117-home estate by Keepmoat, so the children’s play base could be preserved.

But the Doncaster-based housing giant did not have a representative inside a packed meeting, where more than 20 youngsters saw the axe fall on the Burnley Wood hub, to consider the proposal.

Residents were left ‘shocked’ after Keepmoat, who originally wanted to build 134 properties, slimmed down their scheme to create an ‘urban meadow’ off Parliament Street and incorporate land off Oxford Street into Burnley Wood Park, where houses were originally intended.

However council bosses have always been adamant that the Glebe Street building must go, to make way for the wider redevelopment of the area, and the borough’s development control committee agreed.

Liberal Democrat councillors Jeff Sumner and Neil Mottershead resigned from the committee in the wake of the decision.

Coun Sumner said: “How can I sit on a committeee which has made this decision for children in my ward? The Labour councillors voted en-bloc to demolish the centre.”

He had urged councillors to take notice of the 1,400 objections lodged against the plans, for an area bounded by Parliament Street, Oxford Road, Dall Street and Clarence Street.

Jason Leonard, chairman of the youth and community centre said after the meeting: “It is a shock for everyone - we came here feeling quite positive we might achieve something.

“You’ve got to wonder what young people will do now - will there be an increase in anti-social behaviour?”

Earlier he had urged councillors to disregard a planning officer’s report which favoured community facilities being concentrated on the Terracefields building in Springfield Street, claiming it would cost ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ to make the site suitable for all potential users.

County councillor Margaret Brindle also added: “The loss of four houses would be negligible to such a multi-million pound company - but priceless to the local community.”

Town hall bosses have insisted that the land, including the community centre, had been allocated for housing for some time.

Mike Cook, the borough council’s economic regeneration director, said: “The new Keepmoat homes will carry foward work that has been going on over the past few years in Burnley Wood, changing the neighbourhood for the better and giving families a high-quality value-for-money new housing choice.”

He also pledged to work with residents who want to run new activities at the Terracefields building, following Glebe Street’s demise.

Later Keepmoat said it had sent a representative to the meeting but he had not been present for the debate, as it was felt members of the community should have their say.

A statement was also issued by David Wroe, the firm’s new build managing director, claiming that new high-quality housing was ‘essential for the regeneration of Burnley Wood.

He added: “Homeowners on our Towneley Gardens development are amazed at the affect our new homes have had on the area – they say ‘it is like a village has popped up out of nowhere’”.

“As a company we are passionate about regenerating urban communities rather than leaving them to decay. Keepmoat is looking forward to continuing this work which will make the area an even better place to live.”