A campaign group opposing plans to build an £8million care centre, claim it would destroy “ancient woodland”.

The charity Sue Ryder, which cares for people with complex brain conditions, has submitted plans to vacate the listed building Cuerden Hall and build a 62-bed specialist unit on nearby land it owns.

The Save Cuerden group, which opposes the location of the new centre, said the development would destroy “many ancient and glorious trees, hundreds of which will have to be felled during development”.

The charity disputes that any of the trees involved are “ancient” and insists they are “less than 50-years-old”.

Although the woodland is owned by the charity, it is currently accessible to the public.

Alison Whitham, who lives nearby and is a member of Friends of Cuerden Park and Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said the group had great respect for Sue Ryder, but thought the location of the centre was completely wrong.

She said: “Everyone values and applauds the great work that Sue Ryder do and the investment into new facilities is just the nature of progress. However, the site chosen will have a massive environmental impact and much more suitable sites are available.

“It is designated by the county council as ancient and historic woodland of around 300 to 400 trees and should be an asset for future generations.

“It is known as Lady De Hoghton’s Wood as it was planted for her by Robert Towneley-Parker hundreds of years ago.”

Under the proposals, which have been lodged with Chorley Council, former country mansion Cuerden Hall, which dates back to 1717, would be converted into around 60 apartments.

Another six homes would be built within the outbuildings of the current hall.

The proposed neurological care centre would enable the charity to expand its services, providing custom built facilities for people with Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis and other complex diseases.

The Save Cuerden group is appealing for those who support them to contact Chorley Council to object.

Supporter Anne Kingston, said: “The historic Cuerden Valley Park is such a popular and much needed green space.

“It would be tragic to lose any of its valuable and well established habitat and wildlife.

“In its history the park has been sliced in half by the M65 and since that time the trust and rangers have worked hard to improve the park.

“There must be a more sympathetic way to move forward.”

Project manager Paul Harper, who works in the business development team at Sue Ryder, said: “Sue Ryder believes that healthcare and the environment go hand in hand and, as such, aims to minimalise the environmental impact it makes in all areas of the charity.

“As a result of the development, we anticipate that a small number of trees will need to be removed.

“However, this area of trees is not ancient woodland and is not on Natural England’s ancient woodland register.

“The nearest ancient woodland is over 3.8km away to the south east.

“All the trees that would be felled as part of the Cuerden development are poorer quality specimens and generally less than 50-years-old.

“The positioning and design of our new building is such that we are able to retain any higher quality specimens.”