Care home plan set for approval

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RETIREMENT village plans were expected to be approved by Kirklees Council yesterday.

Plans for the eco retirement community, which includes 145 one- and two-bed units, a 50-bed nursing home and a community hub with a store, post office, restaurant, cafe, village hall and bus stop, were submitted by Ponderosa owner Howard Cook.

If granted, the scheme would be built on Ponderosa’s site in Smithies Lane, Heckmondwike.

The Heavy Woollen planning sub committee met as the Guardian went to press yesterday to discuss the plans – and officers recommended that councillors grant permission.

The plans have come under heavy criticism from campaign group Save Norristhorpe Green Belt because part of the development is in green belt land.

The plans submitted to Kirklees Council in September were revised from an earlier scheme which was turned down in May.

But the campaigners were still objecting saying the new plans were even worse than the original scheme.

Spokeswoman Lisa Drake said: “This is a recycling of a failed proposal that is even worse than before. The previous application was poor but this new one proposes even more development in the green belt.”

However developer Howard Cook said his new plans meant less development in the green belt, and a ‘phenomenal’ 500 jobs would be created. In their report to the meeting council officers said the previous scheme was turned down because ‘special circumstances’ permitting development in green belt land had not been met.

However in his new application Mr Cook had made a case for special circumstances, saying Ponderosa was under ‘serious threat of potential closure’ and he could no longer maintain the not-for-profit element which worked with young people with disabilities and learning difficulties if the plans were not given permission.

Officers said members should grant permission for the plans as long as a list of 42 conditions was met, and no substantial new objections were raised by members of the public or organisations at the meeting.

l Visit www.spenboroughguardian.co.uk for the outcome of the meeting.