A PUBLIC inquiry into the county council’s compulsory purchase of land to make way for Accrington’s new bus station got underway yesterday.

Dozens of officials, councillors, and members of the public packed into the town hall’s council chamber for the first day of the inquiry, ordered by Secretary of State for communities and local government, Eric Pickles.

Up to four days of arguments will be heard for and against the new bus station, which is set to move from Peel Street to Crawshaw Street as part of the £50million Pennine Reach scheme.

The council asked for the compulsory purchase order (CPO) to be confirmed by inspector Zoe Hill, a chartered town planner conducting the enquiry.

A site visit was also expected to be carried out yesterday before several objectors appear before the Barrister for Lancashire County Council, John Barrett, read out a statement to the inquiry.

He said: “The existing bus station is, in essence, a collection of bus stops with shelters. It is considered to present a very unattractive facility for passengers.

“It has narrow and cramped waiting shelters and is unattractive.

“The existing bus station causes severance with the town centre in acting as a barrier to pedestrian movement between the central core and the more eastern part of the town centre, owing to its poor pedestrian crossing facility.” Mr Barrett added the proposed site of the CPO is the only one to meet the design criteria, while having ‘minimal impact’ on existing properties and complying with local planning policy.

Landowner Joseph McCormack, from Phoenix Developments, said he turned up to object to the county’s valuation of his land.

He left after being given advice about the Lands Tribunal, which independently decides on values when there’s a dispute.

Owner of Smithson Newsagents in Peel Street, Mushqat Juwale, is today set to speak against the plans.

As is Mario Sarchet from Peter’s Jewellers, in Blackburn Road.

Pat Peet, who presented the county council with a petition containing around 300 signatures, will also speak.