A PLAN to regenerate a hidden area of Accrington, transforming it into a huge multi-purpose leisure complex with shops and apartments, has won the backing of Hyndburn councillors.
The two-acre overgrown eyesore site behind the council's Scaitcliffe House headquarters includes the privately-owned Platt's Lodge, which is home to water voles as well as fish, ducks and frogs.
The rest of the land is owned by Hyndburn Council, which is now looking to bring the whole area under the control of Globe Enterprises Ltd in a bid to spruce it up.
In the past, the secluded site, which is not visible from the road but is often used as a short cut, has been a haven for drug-users, fly-tippers and even prostitutes.
It also features structural columns used by the former railway which act as a magnet to children and could pose an accident risk.
As well as the multi-purpose complex, a section of the proposed national cycleaway network would pass along the edge of the site and across a newly-formed causeway, opening up the area to cyclists and pedestrians.
Jetties would be provided to encourage anglers to use the lodge.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said this week: "I can see the site being used for a high-class development and the idea is wonderful. The flats could be for one or two people.
"The other day somebody said to me that Accrington is a dump, but there are many areas we can work on and this development would be something we could all be proud of."
Labour group leader Councillor David Myles said: "We welcome these plans, as long as the building materials used fit in with the area. It is important that the buildings all complement each other."
The scheme to develop the site is still in its early stages, but a plan has been put forward showing what the complex could look like.
These show a five-storey building which would provide views over the lodge with smaller two-storey commercial-use buildings nearby.
It is hoped the finished plans can be submitted in November and that work can begin in February next year with a finish date of autumn 2007.