Plans to create a community land trust on an area of land straddling the boundary between Nelson and Colne have taken a major step forward this week.
The Pendle Council-owned land at Gib Hill has been the subject of much debate for around 15 years, with councillors deciding earlier this year not to place it towards the top of a list of potential housing sites.
Local residents formed their own pressure group – RAGE (Residents Against Gibhill Exploitation) – to try to block any housing development on the land and fought to have it designated as a nature reserve.
However, the greatest obstacle has been who is going to pay for it and how is this going to be done – but Nelson county councillor Azhar Ali, who has been involved in the campaign to protect the site for many years, claimed to have the solution this week.
County Coun. Ali said he had held meetings at County Hall and had secured a firm commitment from Lancashire County Council’s Environment Directorate.
He said: “The county council will provide senior officer support to help build the capacity of local groups, assist with community design for the site, and to seek external resources and funding to help with the site’s development into a local nature reserve.
“All this needs is written permission from Pendle Council as the land owner so that we can start work in transforming this beautiful resource into a local nature reserve designed and supported by local communities into reality.
“I feel this is an offer too good to turn down and provides the people of Pendle a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform Gib Hill into a viable local nature reserve that provides a lasting legacy for future generations.
“Pendle Council has a great opportunity to allow Lancashire County Council to move forward this exciting plan to work in partnership with the community groups surrounding Gib Hill.”