Visitor attraction goes on the market for £1.3m

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A VISITOR attraction has been put on the market for offers over £1.3m after its owner decided to focus on developing other parts of his business.

Howard Cook MBE and his wife Maureen founded Ponderosa Rare Breeds Farm, between Mirfield and Heckmondwike, more than 20 years ago.

It has since expanded and now attracts 190,000 visitors each year.

But following an operation for prostate cancer last December, Mr Cook has now decided to sell the attraction and focus on developing the rest of the 80-acre Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre site, off Smithies Lane. All bookings will be honoured.

Mr Cook, who was awarded the MBE in 2005 for his community work, provides a day care centre for up to 70 people with learning difficulties, disabilities and dementia at Park Farm, which is part of the site.

The animal attraction is home to animal enclosures, a 150 seat restaurant with outside terrace, an additional 50 seat restaurant with bar, outdoor children’s play area, café and ice cream parlour and landscaped grounds with wildlife areas.

The business, which has a zoo licence, will be sold with all the site buildings and animals which includes llamas, reindeer, meerkats, otters, macaws, owls, spiders, iguanas, geckos and snakes.

Mr Cook said: “The family business has always primarily been in the provision of care for people with learning difficulties and the decision to sell Ponderosa is solely to enable me to dedicate my time to our growing day care centre...and regional community projects.”

He plans to expand the existing facilities by building a 50-bed care home. He had previously wanted to build a retirement village and housing complex but he was denied planning permission.

In addition, he has bought a former sewerage works on the site and next week will begin construction work of the Dewsbury Domes eco project, which will transform the site into a conservation area.

He also plans to develop land around the farm into an outdoor activity centre and allotments for the community.

The farm has a turnover of £1.15m, which agents CBRE and Michael Steel & Co said could be boosted by expanding the site.

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