YEARS of speculation over the fate of one of Huddersfield's most controversial sites have finally come to an end.
Kirklees councillors gave new plans for the former Storthes Hall Hospital site the go-ahead after visiting it.
More than a decade after the huge former psychiatric hospital closed to patients a decision has been made over the future of a large part of the rural Kirkburton site.
The proposal - given outline permission by Kirklees's planning committee yesterday - paves the way for a 300-home retirement village to be built on the 17-hectare site.
The development will offer its retired residents continuing care as they progress through old age.
It will consist of a series of detached, semi-detached and terraced bungalows, offering one or two bedroom accommodation.
The clock tower building will also be turned into a 60-bed residential care home.
Communal facilities will include a restaurant, lounge, medical centre, fitness suite with pool and spa and a hair salon.
A similar development - at Hartrigg Oaks, York - will provide the blueprint for the Storthes Hall site.
The retirement village will sit alongside the existing student accommodation blocks, housing students from Huddersfield University.
A sports complex used by Huddersfield Town for training is not affected by the plans.
Clr Andrew Pinnock, Kirklees Cabinet's member responsible for development services, has welcomed the plans.
He said: "What we have got is about the only realistic use for this site.
"Almost everything else was likely to cause traffic problems or put pressure on local schools.
"I think this will solve an outstanding problem in terms of land use and provide accommodation which I'm sure will be attractive to a lot of people and provide them with continuing care."
The decision to approve the application comes after a series of different proposals have been put forward for the site.
Shortly after the hospital closed, developers Dyke Brothers submitted plans for more than 800 homes, which sparked a furious outcry.
In 1995, the university bought the site, with the intention of developing a student village.
In 2000, a major application for a housing development with retail and community leisure facilities was turned down.
In 2003 the university sold its accommodation, but kept the sports fields.