Council to keep out of Ponderosa High Court fight

ECO HOMES: How the scheme would look.
ECO HOMES: How the scheme would look.
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Kirklees Council is expected to keep out of Ponderosa’s High Court bid for planning permission for an eco retirement community.

Howard Cook, who owns Ponderosa farm and business park in Smithies Lane, Heckmondwike, is seeking an order to quash the Secretary of State’s decision not to grant planning permission for his scheme.

Members of Kirklees’s Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee were expected to agree not to take an active part in the proceedings yesterday as the Guardian went to press.

An officers’ report stated Mr Pickles should take primary responsibility for defending his decision, adding: “If this claim does progress to a court hearing, officers would not expect the local planning authority to attend the hearing or to be legally represented. Matters will be left to the Secretary of State alone.”

Mr Cook’s village would include 145 extra care housing units, a 50 bed residential care home, restaurant, library, shop and treatment rooms.

The plans were turned down by Kirklees Council last year because part of the scheme would be built in green belt land at Ponderosa.

Mr Cook appealed, saying it would create jobs and free up family homes, and the planning inspector agreed in principle – but Secretary of State Eric Pickles turned the plans down because he said potential benefits did not outweigh harm to the green belt.

Last month Mr Cook allayed fears Ponderosa would close but did not wish to comment on the High Court bid yesterday.

l Visit our website for comments from yesterday afternoon’s meeting.