Claim for £250,000 costs in planning dispute

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A BITTER planning dispute could be dragged to the High Court after a council and one of Yorkshire’s oldest property estates became locked in a battle over a legal bill of more than £250,000.

Ryedale District Council has been ordered to pay legal costs after a Government planning inspector deemed the local authority’s decision to grant planning permission for a superstore in Malton was flawed. Campaigners including broadcaster Selina Scott, who lives near the market town, voiced grave concerns over the supermarket plan, claiming it would undermine Malton’s independent traders.

The Fitzwilliam Estate, which challenged the council’s decision to deny it permission to build a smaller food store and retail units on Malton Livestock Market, has now submitted a claim for costs totalling £251,505.

The council has disputed the sum and made an offer which its solicitor, Anthony Winship, acknowledged is “significantly less” than the bill put forward by the estate.

The estate manager for the Fitzwilliam Estate, Roddy Bushell, told the Yorkshire Post he hoped negotiations would lead to an agreement being reached. But he confirmed the case could go before the High Court in London if a figure cannot be agreed.

Mr Bushell said: “Neither ourselves nor the council would want to end up in court over this as it would prove extremely costly for both parties.

“But unless an agreement is reached, this is nonetheless a possibility.”

It emerged in October that planning inspector David Wildsmith had ruled the council’s decision to grant planning permission for a superstore on Wentworth Street car park was flawed, a move that means the application will have to be reconsidered by the authority. The ruling follows a planning inquiry after the Fitzwilliam Estate challenged the council’s decision to deny it permission to transform the livestock market.

The authority voted to grant developer GMI Holbeck planning permission for the scheme on the car park, which the council agreed to sell for a £5m windfall. GMI Holbeck has claimed the development is vital to ensure Malton can compete with rival retail destinations.

At the same meeting of the council’s planning committee in April, members turned down the application from the Fitzwilliam estate to build a food store on the livestock market site.

Mr Wildsmith’s decision means the application by the estate to knock down the existing livestock market and redevelop the site has been granted outline planning permission, subject to conditions being agreed. Mr Bushell confirmed a detailed planning application for the market’s re-development is to be prepared, although it is unlikely to be submitted to the council until next year.