The battle of the Issa brothers looms as locals unite against development in the Blackburn countryside

Residents have banded together to oppose plans to develop 94 countryside acres for new commercial buildings in which the billionaire Issa brothers have a stake.

Residents’ group – Protect our Greenbelt and Rural Communities – opposes the inclusion of Green Fields between Belthorn and Guide near Junction 5 of the M65 in Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s draft local plan for creative development jobs.

He will stage a four-mile protest march on Saturday from the Belthorn War Memorial to Blackburn Town Hall. The group opposes any development on protected greenbelt lands.

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Monte Blackburn Ltd, the property arm of EG Group founders business empire Mohsin and Zuber Issa, has a legal option in the land between Belthorn and Guide where campaigners believe radioactive waste has been dumped in ancient wells mining in the 1950s.

Group spokeswoman Donna Simpson said: ‘Residents of Belthorn and Guide have formed a ‘Protect Our Greenbelt and Rural Communities’ community group to highlight their objections to the strategic employment site. proposed within Blackburn with Darwen’s local plan and the resulting release of green belt land to facilitate this.

“They believe the site will cause significant environmental damage and that the evidence used to support the abandonment of the region’s longstanding green belt protection is flawed. Specifically, the group is campaigning for proposals that require the destruction of green belt land bounded by the B6232 Grane Road (a recognized crash blackspot) to be removed from the plan.

“This is for a number of reasons – such as the impact of increased traffic, damage to the environment and the detrimental impact on rare wildlife. On Saturday, residents will walk from Belthorn to Blackburn to raise awareness and collect signatures to present to councilors to share their objections.

Local resident and band member Kathryn Sharpe said: “If this plan comes to fruition, it will lead to the destruction of villages as they are engulfed in urban sprawl.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: ‘There will be further consultation on the draft local plan and an inquiry into it, probably later this year, where they can put their case to a government planning inspector. If the land remains in the local plan, there will be further opportunities to raise concerns through the planning process.

Conservative West Pennine ward councilor Julie Slater said: ‘I am delighted with this demonstration of the strength of local opinion. This is further proof that Blackburn with Darwen Council is not listening to residents.

A spokesperson for Monte declined to comment on the latest developments.

Sara H. Byrd