NINE new houses could be built behind a picturesque countryside vicarage, if councillors approve plans.

The Blackburn Diocese Board of Finance wants to build the houses on land behind St Michael’s Vicarage, in Skipton Road, Foulridge.

Residents of Burwains Avenue, near to the development, have objected to the plans, saying it would increase traffic problems.

But council planners are recommending the scheme for approval.

Pendle Council planning officer Alex Cameron said: “The application site is a parking area and garage colony to the rear of St Michael’s Vicarage in Foulridge.

“To the north is the rear garden of Lea Bank, to the east is the end of Burwains Avenue, and to the south is St Michael's Church.

“The site includes an area of hardstanding used as a car parking area by the church.”

Residents on the narrow cul-de-sac said that the removal of the nine garages on the site would also increase traffic problems, and the loss of the additional car parking for the church would create further problems for people attending the church.

But in a report to councillors, Mr Cameron said: “Burwains Avenue is a public highway serving 30 properties at present and as such is legally required to be kept free from obstruction.

“Therefore, the availability of access to the site during and after construction can be assured.

“Taking into account that it already serves 30 homes, the addition of nine dwellings would not result in an unacceptable increase in traffic along Burwains Avenue and surrounding roads.”

The plans will be discussed at the Colne and District Committee meeting tonight at Colne Town Hall, starting at 7pm.