A CONTROVERSIAL plan to add a forensic examination unit on to a vehicle storage business has sparked a public inquiry.
Assured Automobile Assessors (AAA), based off Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors, had hoped to build a large three-bay building to house 24 cars and erect a security fence.
But the scheme was turned down by Hyndburn councillors last year because of the negative effect it would have on the character and appearance of the area.
This week Derek Thew, from the Planning Inspectorate, opened the appeal at Scaitcliffe House, Accrington, hearing comments from AAA, local residents and Hyndburn Council before making a site visit.
AAA stores cars that have been involved in road accidents and crimes on behalf of Lancashire Police and wants to build the 41 metre-long-by-7.3-metre-high building as a forensic examination unit.
But residents argue that the site is in a residential area and say the business should be relocated to an out-of-town industrial site.
Vincent Donnelly, a self-employed plumber, of Whalley Road, said: "This business wants to operate 24 hours a day. Cars coming and going will make noise, compressed air generators which might be used make noise and opening the roller shutter doors and fences during the night will make noise."
Speaking against the application, Altham councillor Miles Parkinson said: "The character of the area was industrial in the mill era before the motor car was king.
"We're now in the 21st century and this development will have a major detrimental impact on the town and on the aspirations of individuals in the area."
Gerry Holmes, owner of AAA, said he employed 28 people and assured residents that no activities in the proposed building would generate noise. He said the building was needed for the safe storage and examination of high-value vehicles .
Brent Clarkson, development control manager for Hyndburn Council, expressed his concerns about the openness of the site.
He said the 2.4 metre high fencing was unsuitable and only served as a security measure, not as a screen for the firm's activities which could be seen by neighbours and people on the canal.
He said: "The decision of the previous inspectorate was to agree with us and nothing has changed."
Mr Thew will now consider the issue before issuing his verdict.