A MONEY-spinning industrial park which could bring up to 3,000 jobs to the area has finally been given the thumbs-up by council planners.
The proposed scheme on 35 hectares of greenfield land stretching south from the Whitebirk motorway roundabout was originally proposed back in 2003, but was blocked by the Highways Agency due to the impact on M65 congestion.
The latest application was a third smaller than the original proposal, having been subjected to two major consultations, producing 16 letters of objection from local residents and a petition signed by 86 names.
But Hyndburn Planning Committee felt the benefits of the scheme to the local economy would outweigh any disadvantages, particularly given the degree of screening afforded by a 60-65 metre buffer between factories and Blackburn Road. It could also lead to £2M worth of improvements to public transport systems.
The Highways Agency agreed to a reduced scheme largely comprising a research and development ‘knowledge park’, light industry uses, storage and distribution units.
But there were concerns that the development also included provision for shops, food outlets, leisure facilities and even residential flats.
Speaking against the scheme, Councillor Malcolm Pritchard told the committee: “The site was supposed to be for industrial units but we’ve got hot food takeaways, a nursery, creche, gymnasium and fitness centre and five apartments. All we are going to do is open the floodgates.”
There were other concerns on the impact on M65 traffic volumes, height restrictions on buildings as well as the prospect of the site being used as a rat run by traffic tailgating buses.
But Councillor John Griffiths felt some small-scale retail and accommodation facilities to service the needs of the on-site workforce was justified.
He said: “The size of the industrial units is 87,000 square metres and no more than 1,000 square metres is for this other use. If Hyndburn is to prosper we do need to have this sort of site.”
Council planner Brent Clarkson said: “The development could make a significant contribution to the economy both locally and in Lancashire as a whole.”
More detailed plans will now be drawn up and sent for approval at a later date.