Blow for Ponderosa Zoo as new buildings refused over green belt concerns

Owners of Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike have been refused retrospective permission for five buildings on the site of a former sewage works.
Ponderosa Zoo in HeckmondwikePonderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike
Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike

Councillors rejected arguments that the buildings, said to be for educational, agricultural and community use, came within the very special circumstances needed to justify building within the green belt.

The buildings were put up in 2019 several years after the former Spenborough Wastewater Treatment Works, off Smithies Lane, were demolished. However, under national planning regulations the land is now considered to be a greenfield site.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The decision was a fresh blow to Adam Cook, owner of Park Farm and Ponderosa Business Park, who last year had a plan to build 43 homes thrown out by Kirklees Council.

The Ponderosa was set up more than 30 years ago by Mr Cook’s parents, Howard and Maureen.

As well as running the Ponderosa, they cared for up to 70 people with learning difficulties, disabilities and dementia at Park Farm.

Speaking on his father’s behalf at a meeting of the council’s strategic planning committee, Adam Cook called for members’ support and invited them to see the project for themselves.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “What we do with people with learning disabilities is phenomenal. I invite anybody in this room to come and have a look.

“I want to embrace this for the future. We want to move forward.

"I am here now to try and move this in the right direction. To keep it sustainable, keep it positive and embrace what an asset they have in Kirklees and that is self-funded by ourselves, not by grants.

“Some of these people [with learning disabilities] have been on our site for 24 years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It’s a fantastic scheme, we want to move it forward and want your support for doing what we care about.”

Planning agent Alistair Flatman urged the committee to take “a pragmatic and supportive approach” to the scheme.

However, councillors said buildings had been put up without permission within a green belt area and that the developers had flouted the rules.

They agreed with officers that the development was inappropriate and that claims of very special circumstances did not outweigh significant harm to the green belt.