‘Gutted’ over homes plan

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PONDEROSA bosses say they are ‘gutted’ after their plans for a retirement community were turned down by Kirklees Council.

Howard and Adam Cook, who own Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre in Heckmondwike, said they were ‘hurt and disappointed’ that the planning and highways committee rejected their application for a 145-unit eco retirement village and care home last week.

The plans were turned down because they were an ‘inappropriate use of green belt land’.

Howard Cook said they were keeping their future plans under wraps until they had taken legal advice.

He said: “Everybody involved is gutted. We just can’t believe that was the outcome. We are hurt, and are now taking stock of where we are – though we are still committed to what we are doing with the Able 2 project and the probation services with young offenders.

“We have lawyers coming next week so we can’t really say anything else until we have taken advice.”

Previously the developers said they would no longer be able maintain Ponderosa’s not-for-profit element which worked with young people with disabilities and learning difficulties if the plans were not given permission. But this week Mr Cook would not comment on the future of the business.

He said: “Kirklees Council have done their financial work and they know what’s there. We are in consultation with a lot of people and with Kirklees Council and we are all trying to work together for a sustainable outcome.”

Mr Cook said he thought objectors were focusing on the green belt issue rather than the wider picture.

He said: “I don’t think people are really reading what the application is about, just thinking about the green belt. It’s always been a serious concern for the site.”

Meanwhile his son, Adam, said he was disappointed Ponderosa, would not be able to deliver the 400-plus jobs promised if the plans had been given the go-ahead.

He said: “We have had a huge rise in unemployment – and yet we have just had 440 jobs turned down. I am really disappointed. The scheme is privately funded and there would have been 200 apprenticeships. In times like these I can’t understand it.”

l In last week’s story ‘Planners refuse eco-homes bid’ we incorrectly reported that Conservative members voted for the development. We are happy to point out this is not true and that Labour supported the plans. We apologise for the inaccuracy.