SUPPORTERS of plans to build a children's hospice in Huddersfield have been dealt a devastating blow.
A plan to debate the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust's plan at a Kirklees Council planning committee today was pulled from the agenda at the 11th hour.
Trust chiefs were 'shellshocked' when they were told the news yesterday lunchtime.
After receiving overwhelming public support they were sure that today would finally be the day when plans to build the much-needed centre on a site at Brackenhall were officially given the green light.
To celebrate their victory supporters had planned to release balloons on Huddersfield Town Hall steps in the hospice's colours of blue and yellow after the meeting.
But instead they are left wondering how long it will be before building work on the hospice, which would help sick and terminally ill children, can finally go ahead.
A new date to discuss the hospice plan has not yet been given.
Trust fundraising manager Mandy Barwick told the Examiner she could not comment on why the hospice plan was pulled from today's agenda.
She added: "All I can say is that we are devastated - but still determined to succeed one day."
The news marked the latest in a number of setbacks for the trust, which has been raising money for nine years to build the eight-bed hospice and respite centre.
It has now made three attempts to get approval for the site from Kirklees.
The Examiner can reveal that before today's planning meeting members of the Fell Greave Support Group - which is made up of residents who live near the proposed site - submitted their objections in an open letter to Rob Vincent, the council's chief executive.
In it they said they believed the hospice would be destructive to the urban greenspace and historic landscape of the land, which is owned by Kirklees.
The objectors added: "Nobody doubts the worthiness of children's hospices.
"What is in doubt is the council's ability to manage this situation properly and prevent there being a conflict between siting a hospice and destroying an irreplaceable landscape.
"The planning department are seeking to justify building on urban greenspace land by stating the hospice brings a specific benefit to the community.
"Surely this specific benefit attaches to the building itself and not to the site the building is located on.
"The hospice can be located anywhere in Kirklees and the community benefit remains.
"There are no compelling reasons to locate the hospice on Fell Greave field that an alternative site can not provide."
Clr Ken Sims, the council Cabinet's member for regeneration, said: "Unfortunately it has been decided that a decision on the hospice application, due to be considered by the planning sub-committee, should be deferred to a later meeting.
"This is to enable both the applicant and the council to further consider issues of the proposed building's impact on its surroundings which have been raised by the council's conservation officer and objectors to the proposal."
"It is regrettable that such action has been necessary, particularly as the council wholeheartedly supports the provision of such facilities," added Clr Sims.
"However, it is in the interests of both sides that a decision on such an application adequately and appropriately considers the interests of all who may be affected by the development."