PLANS to extend an east Cleveland farm have been given the go-ahead by councillors for compassionate reasons.

Polio victim John King applied to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for permission to extend his home at Hobdale House, Skelton Green, so his son and daughter-in-law could stay with him.

The idea was that the young couple could help him and his wife, who are both in their early 60s, look after the family's prized sheep flock.

Mr King's flock of Texels requires constant attention and he has made a success of the farm. His wife, Joan, keeps horses and daughter-in-law Lucy is a horse riding instructor.

The National Farmers' Union backed Mr King's application, as did the parish council and the health centre in Skelton.

However, officials recommended that the council's planning committee turn down the application because it was similar to a scheme that was refused in June.

That was turned down because planners said the site was outside development limits and in a special landscape area.

Officers also said they did not think the application fitted in with planning guidelines, which oppose residential development unless it is essential for people working in agriculture and forestry.

At a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday, planning officer Doreen Mealing said: "We are very sympathetic to the personal needs, but personal circumstances are not enough to justify approval."

However, Councillor Dave McLuckie said: "These people do not want preferential treatment, they want the parity given to the five other developers in the area. It is a rarity that we have a working farm in this area."

He proposed that the application should be accepted and he was backed by Conservative councillor Peter Spencer, who said: "If we can't get people living and working there the farm will die, and we have to give help to the farming community."

Councillor Garth Houchen said: "We must bring compassion into play."

Councillors recommended approval because they felt it was the compassionate answer