Opposition to Sainsbury’s plan in Skipton

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Campaigners against a bid to build a new supermarket on the edge of a Yorkshire market town are preparing for a show-down with developers as D-day looms for the controversial development.

Henry Boot Developments Ltd wants to build a new business park in Skipton that would create around 1,100 jobs and include a Sainsbury’s food store and petrol station, car park, eight business innovation units, company headquarters and distribution centre, pub, restaurant and hotel on agricultural land north of the A629.

But 1,500 people have signed a petition against the scheme, called Wyvern Park, and Craven Council has received 149 letters of objection including representations from residents, businesses and sports clubs.

Malcolm Weaving, owner of the Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton, which hosted a meeting about the scheme, said the strength of feeling was “overwhelming.”

He added: “Anyone who loves Skipton is not going to want the High Street destroyed. The High Street shop owners are trying to make a living and they are going to get part of that living taken away from them. Let’s keep Skipton the best place to live in the UK. The High Street is a fantastic high street in a fantastic little market town.”

Critics fear the effect the development will have on a nearby cemetery and on shops, pubs and restaurants in the town centre.

They have raised a raft of issues including concerns about traffic, pedestrian safety, the impact on Settle’s economy, the height and the scale of the development and noise.

Brian Verity, of Skipton Properties, said: “The new Sainsbury’s is on the bypass, and that’s exactly what people would do – shop there and bypass Skipton altogether. I’m terrified this will suck the life out of Skipton.”

Craven Council has received 28 letters from people backing the scheme, which would provide 280,000 sq ft of new industrial and commercial space and a new link to the bypass. Supporters say it would benefit the local economy, provide a wider choice of shopping and create job opportunities. But the council’s planning committee will be advised to refuse planning permission when they meet on Monday. A report says that the proposed supermarket “would have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.”

A Henry Boot spokesmansaid: “Wyvern Park will be good news for Skipton, providing the new employment space that the town, and the wider Craven district, desperately needs. Without this expansion of employment space there is a real risk that existing businesses will in time be forced to leave the area in order to expand. Similarly the opportunity to attract new companies to the town will be seriously hampered. We do not accept that this development, including a Sainsbury’s foodstore, will have a significant adverse impact on the town centre.”