Ponderosa care home appeal refused

DISAPPOINTED: Howard Cook.
DISAPPOINTED: Howard Cook.

PONDEROSA is to stay open despite its owner losing a bid to build an eco retirement village on the site.

Howard Cook launched an appeal after his plans to build the community – of 145 extra care housing units, a 50 bed residential care home, restaurant, library, shop and treatment rooms – were turned down by Kirklees Council last year, as part of the scheme was in the green belt.

After the appeal the planning inspector recommended approval – but on Monday the secretary of state Eric Pickles announced planning permission was being refused because the scheme’s potential benefits did not outweigh harm to the green belt.

Mr Cook said he was extremely disappointed – especially as the planning inspector supported the scheme.

But he confirmed Ponderosa would stay open.

He said: “Our very special circumstances were compelling and unique, bringing significant benefits to the area. It is difficult to understand why the secretary of state should take a contrary view and not promote jobs and regeneration in an area that desperately needs it – but that is what he has done.

“We now have to take stock of the decision and its implications for Ponderosa and the council’s initiatives on neighbouring land.”

He thanked his supporters and his team for their hard work.

Meanwhile, campaigners against the scheme said they were ‘delighted’ with the result.

Lisa Drake, from Save Norristhorpe Green Belt, said: “We came together as a unified community to campaign to defend this beautiful green belt site for future generations.

“We always wanted this development to take place on the many brownfield sites across the area, which need this sort of development to offer real regeneration for locations that are presently eyesores.”

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She thanked Spen MP Mike Wood, Gordon North and Max Rathmell from Spen Valley Civic Society, and campaign supporters.

Mr North said: “We take no pleasure in the potential loss of the many positive attributes to this application.”

However he said the society could support an application which did not compromise the green belt.

Jacqui Gedman, Kirklees Council’s director of place, said: “This decision will allow all parties to move forward from what has been a very long process for everyone involved. There are, however, consequences of the refusal for both the applicant and other projects in the area. All parties will have to take stock on how they move forward from now.”