A PETITION has been launched to protect a Darwen field from a potential development of 500 houses.

Bailey’s Field has been included in the council’s local plan, produced after the authority was told sites for more than 9,000 new homes were required in the borough.

But residents have hit out at the field’s inclusion, which they say is littered with mine shafts and would lead to traffic problems due to the size of any potential development.

Although no planning applications have been submitted, Blackburn with Darwen Council has identified the sites for development to avoid building taking place in areas it does not want it to.

Darwen MP Jake Berry launched the petition after being contacted by worried constituents. He said: “A number of people in Darwen have been in touch to express their concern that Blackburn with Darwen Council have earmarked Bailey’s Field for 500 new houses. Anyone who lives in Darwen will tell you that this site is not suitable for such a massive development.”

Eileen Eastham, of Milton Close, a member of Darwen Townswomen’s Guild, said: “The proposal is mind-boggling to say the least.

“What an horrendous impact such a development would have on the area which already suffers a high volume of traffic.

“The site is riddled with mine shafts which serve a useful purpose at present in allowing some drainage from the land. Where will that water go? It is a recipe for more flooding.”

Darwen councillor Peter Hollings said the council had no choice but to include Bailey’s Field in the plan.

He said: “This has been a costly and time-consuming exercise for the council and includes sites which will undoubtedly be unpopular with some members of the public.

“In generating this plan we can safeguard other parts of the borough.

“Bailey’s Field would be ideal for the placement of new homes, adjoining other developments on Marsh House Lane and St James’ Estate.”

Sudell councillor Paul Browne said: “The only thing I have against it is there are a lot of mine shafts underneath so I do not think it will be safe enough.”

To sign the petition, visit www.protectbaileysfield. tk or call 01254 701258 for a paper copy.