CONTROVERSIAL plans to build around 60 new homes near Greenberfield Locks ‘beauty spot’ on the outskirts of Barnoldswick have been dismissed by a Government planning inspector.

A scaled down outline application by Future Habitats to develop the around eight acre greenfield site off Skipton Road - once described as the ‘jewel in Pendle’s crown’ was refused by Pendle Borough Council in July last year, just six months after a larger planned development of around 100 homes was similarly refused permission by the council.

Now, Government inspector, Darren Hendley, for the Planning Inspectorate, has upheld the council’s decision, and refused planning permission because of the proposed development’s impact on heritage assets, and on the surrounding countryside.

Craven ward councillor for Pendle Council, Ken Hartley, said: “We’ve been campaigning against development of this field for five years. It should never have been allocated for housing in the first place and this appeal decision vindicates our opposition. The planning inspector has agreed with every word of what we said on heritage and landscape grounds.

“This is a victory that should guarantee the future of our irreplaceable canalside heritage for generations to come. This is brilliant news that will be welcomed by all who have campaigned against the destruction of our heritage and countryside.”

In his decision notice, the inspector said the main issues of the proposed development were whether it would preserve the setting of a number of listed buildings associated with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and the impact on the landscape and appearance of the area.

Mr Hendley said visual impact of the houses would be localised, because of the undulating nature of the countryside, but not to users of the canal and towpath, and it would also be clearly seen from Skipton Road, a main entrance into the town.

“Greenberfield Locks is also a destination in its own right and as well as its pleasing arrangement of buildings and structures, its facilities include associated seating, picnic tables, a car park and seasonal cafe, as well as allowing for the mooring of canal boats. The change would be markedly apparent to its users and be detrimental,” he said.

The developer had proposed the use of ‘landscaping buffers’ to mitigate the appearance of the houses, but they could have the reverse effect, added the inspector.

“Even though the proposed landscaping buffers may lessen the visual effects of the built form in due course, there is no assurance they would be sufficiently effective, and they may in themselves draw attention to the proposal due to their potential size if their function is to screen it.

“The loss of the largely undeveloped character of the site that the proposal would project into the countryside are considered with the effects on the users of the canal and the cultural importance of the landscape, it leads me to find that the effects, overall, would be harmful.”