PLANS to build more than 60 new homes on fields between Earby and Sough and would - if allowed - result in the blending of the communities, a meeting heard.

Objectors at a meeting of West Craven Committee said the agricultural land off Colne Road, Earby was currently home to several different species of birds including endangered curlew, oystercatcher and heron.

Several different types of bat, hedgehogs, otters and roe deer were also seen in the green space which separated the two communities, the meeting heard.

A hybrid application by Dalesview Developments is seeking planning permission from Pendle Council for a full, detailed application for 39 homes to the north of the site, and outline permission, to establish the principle of development, for up to 31 homes to the south.

Councillor David Whipp stressed to the around 30 people at the meeting on Tuesday in Salterforth that because the application was for more than 60 homes it would be decided by the council's Development Management Committee, with a recommendation from the West Craven Committee. He added that the application would be considered at the July meeting at the earliest, and that he and fellow West Craven councillor, Mick Strickland were both members.

Three objectors, all speaking on behalf of themselves, and others, raised concerns about flooding, highways issues, the loss of a break between settlements, overdevelopment in that the density of housing was too great, impact on already over stretched services, such as GP surgeries, increase in traffic on the A56, impact on the nature-rich area and there being no need for more housing.

A report to the committee meeting said the site was classed as open countryside, outside but next to the settlements of Earby to the north and Kelbrook and Sough to the south. It is currently divided into two parts, with a hedgerow running in-between.

It has already raised objections from Lancashire County Council Lead Local Flood Authority because of inadequate flood risk assessment and drainage strategy; and from the Environment Agency, again on grounds of inadequate flood risk assessment.

Both Kelbrook and Sough Parish Council, and Earby Town Council have strongly objected.

Joe Hayle, who said he had lived in the area for 40 years, said loss of the natural break between Earby and Sough was unacceptable, and added "the high density of housing is at odds with the lovely countryside."

Following unanimous agreement, Councillor David Whipp told the meeting that the recommendation fro the West Craven Committee to the decision-making Development Management Committee would be to refuse the application.