Campaigners said they are ‘bitterly disappointed’ after the council rejected their pleas not to sell off a popular playing field for a 250-home development.
Around 20 protesters gathered at an extraordinary cabinet meeting in a bid to persuade councillors to halt their plans for Lyndon House Playing Fields in Great Harwood.
Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson said he understood their concerns and ‘passion’, but said they were under ‘significant pressure’ for more homes to be built in the borough.
Under the plans, Reilly Developments Ltd would create a new 10 acre public open space at nearby Heymoor Farm and Great Harwood Rovers FC would also move to that site.
Objector Patrick McGinley told the meeting that ‘at least 90 per cent’ of people in Great Harwood were opposed to the plan and that it was the last green area in the Netherton ward.
He said: “It is the most popular and safe area for children playing.
“It may have been bought for houses in the 1950s but has been a playing area for 60 to 90 years.”
Resident Shelley Whitehead, who broke into tears giving her statement, said: “Please don’t get rid of that space.
“It’s the only place where my daughter can play safely.”
Andy Counsell, of the football club, said previous plans to develop facilities at Lyndon House playing fields have ‘no chance’ of success and this proposal is the ‘only option available’.
He told the meeting that the new sports pitches and pavilion would be open to all community uses and that sport pitches would be in place before they give up their 25-year lease at Lyndon House and move to the Heymoor Farm site.
Coun Parkinson said he will demand ‘high standards of homes’ on the site and that the sell-off of the land will only take place once ‘all legal and financial contracts are in place that bind all parties’.
He told the meeting: “I know you are deeply upset, change is very unfortunate.
“Then again it still might not happen because the developer may not agree to the high standards of homes.
“If they don’t I won’t dispose of the land.
“We have obtained in principle agreement from Reilly’s for approximately 10 acres of the Heymoor Farm site to be dedicated as public open space and to be used in the same
way as the current provision at Lyndon Playing Fields.
“That will mean a net gain of nearly 2.5 acres of open space in the area.”
Speaking after the meeting Mr McGinley said the council ‘vastly underestimated’ the opposition and criticised their decision to not delay the vote.