Minister’s refusal clears way for market town store plan

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Controversial plans to build a supermarket in a North Yorkshire market town are set to go ahead after the Government rejected campaigners’ calls for a public inquiry.

Ryedale District Council approved the Wentworth Street car park scheme in March, and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles yesterday confirmed the application would not be called in.

Explaining his reasoning, he said: “The power to call in a case will only be used very selectively, and planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.”

He said he had “carefully considered the impact of the proposals, and the key policy issues of building a strong and competitive economy, ensuring the vitality of town centre and promoting sustainable transport”.

However, he concluded “the proposals do not involve a conflict with national policies on important matters, have significant effects beyond their immediate locality, give rise to substantial regional or national controversy, or raise significant architectural and urban design issues”.

The news is a bitter blow to campaigners, including broadcaster and Malton resident Selina Scott, who believe building a large supermarket will sound the death knell for the town’s independent retailers.

A separate public inquiry may still be held into a rejected application for a smaller food store by the Fitzwilliam Estate, which has owned much of Malton’s centre for the past 300 years.

The estate lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate after the council opposed its plans to redevelop the town’s livestock market in the same meeting it approved the Wentworth Street scheme.

Leeds-based developer GMI Holbeck claims its multi-million pound supermarket project will help to attract other major retailers as well as creating jobs.

It has not yet been revealed which supermarket chains have expressed an interest in the site.

John Raper, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “Following a detailed assessment by the Secretary of State, this announcement justifies the decision and approach taken by Ryedale District Council as the local planning authority.”