THE owners of a former farm on the West Pennine Moors have been given permission to convert two 19th century barns into a new house.

This is despite concerns from neighbours and fears over the loss of barn owl and bat roosts.

Blackburn with Darwen Planning Committee approved the scheme at its meeting this month after hearing from the applicants' agent Sophie Marshall and neighbour and objector Christine Grimwood.

The owners of Hob Lane Farm on Blackburn Road in Turton, Djemel and Jennifer Salah-Bey-Carr, had withdrawn a previous application in April 2020, prior its refusal on grounds of heritage impact, design, neighbour amenity, and access.

Since then they had worked with borough planning officials to produce a more satisfactory scheme which still resulted in 10 objections.

They included worries about the heritage impact, access across the land for neighbours, the effect on barn owls and bats roosting in the barns, and the loss of a cobbled yard.

The neighbour also complained about work to the roof of the barns starting before planning permission for any alterations had been granted.

Blackburn with Darwen Council planning manager Gavin Prescott told the meeting: "Both barns have been in need of structural repair.

"Work has, in fact, been commenced prematurely on the roof.

"This was halted by enforcement action.

"The proposal is for the formation of the two separate barns into a single attached dwelling.

"The location of the barns is considered to complete the form and appearance of a ‘fold’.

"Residential use was considered to be the preferred option if the barns were to be brought back into use rather than being allowed to continue their decline into dereliction."

The committee approved the application with stringent conditions to protect the roosting bats and barn owls and prevent further development of the complex without express council approval.

Mrs Grimwood said: "This application affects the occupants of seven neighbouring houses.

"The applicants actions accelerated the deterioration of the barns and the courtyard.

"The setting will be affected by the conversion and the changes will cause loss of and concealment of historic fabric and features."

Ms Marshall said: "The applicants have a large family and if approved the barns will provide them with a forever family home.

"The applicants seek to provide an improvement and allow the council to control what is happening around the barn and in the courtyard.

" Their viable reuse will only maintain these historic layouts, enhance the setting and maintain it for future generations to enjoy."