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FOUR sites in Darwen have been earmarked for development by the council as part of a Government policy that could see 9,000 homes built across the borough over 15 years.

Bailey’s Field, off Marsh House Lane, the former Darwen Moorland High School site and land near Cranberry Lane are all being looked at by planners.

Those sites are joined by the land between Pole Lane and Spring Meadows, which is already the subject of a controversial planning application to build 133 new homes.

Planning officials said they had been forced to look at their options after the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework in March in a bid to stimulate the economy through house building.

At a meeting of Darwen Town Council, planning chiefs Neil Rogers and David Proctor unveiled Blackburn with Darwen Council’s plans to colleagues.

Mr Proctor said: “Like it or not, building on brownfield sites cannot be done because of the market. In terms of viability, these are the type of sites housebuilders can build on.”

Mr Proctor said a number of consultations would be held with local residents, although dates and locations of these had yet to be confirmed.

He said: “There are major issues such as traffic, flooding and mine shafts which will all be taken into consideration.

“We want to explore the benefits of development and bring it forward in a planned way, rather than have planning by appeal.”

Marsh House councillor Frank Connor said the Government’s policy had been drawn up based on the south.

He said: “The Government says this will create lots of jobs, but there is no proof that will happen in the North West.

“There is no way those figures can be met around here.

“It seems to me they just want to make it easier for house builders to get planning permission.”

Sudell councillor Roy Davies said more focus should be on developing empty homes in the town.

He said: “I’ve got more than 200 empty properties in my ward and these are the houses that need to be developed.”

Mr Proctor said whether the development of existing homes could be incorporated into the 9,000 was being investigated.