Controversial plans to build a supermarket in a picturesque North Yorkshire market town have been backed by councillors despite significant local concerns it will hit traders in Malton which has built a reputation as a “foodie” destination.
Following Rydedale District Council’s decision advice will now be sought from the Government to see if it wishes to intervene after the councillors voted to grant outline planning permission for a superstore on the Wentworth Street car park, in Malton, which the authority agreed to sell for a windfall of up to £5m.
The decision is the latest in a saga which began two years ago when members of the council agreed to grant planning permission to developer GMI Holbeck to build a superstore at Wentworth Street and opted to throw out a rival bid from the Fitzwilliam estate to build a food store on the site of the Malton Livestock Market.
However a planning inspector later granted permission to the Fitzwilliam estate’s outline plans and said the authority’s decision to back the rival Wentworth Street scheme was flawed and ordered a rethink.
But after considering the Wentworth Street proposals again the council’s planning committee has again given its support. Campaigners, including broadcaster Selina Scott, who lives near Malton, have voiced grave concerns over the superstore plan for the car park.
Opponents fear the arrival of the superstore will spell the end for many of Malton’s traders, amid warnings the fabric of a centuries-old market town risks being destroyed.
Ms Scott told The Yorkshire Post she was not surprised at the council’s decision but fears independent traders selling locally-sourced food will find it hard to compete. She said the decision was “a complete breach of trust with the people of Malton.
“Malton has in recent years built an enviable reputation as the food capital of Yorkshire showcasing the magnificent produce from around the region,” she said.
She has previously said the redevelopment of the livestock market was preferable as the food store would be on a smaller scale.The developer has argued £30m of retail spending is currently being lost in the area as shoppers are travelling to other areas to spend their cash.
Members of the council’s planning committee backed the plans to build a supermarket, offices and a petrol station and agreed the application should be sent to Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, for consideration.
“If the Secretary of State decides to intervene and so require this application to be referred to him for a decision, a public inquiry can be expected,“ said Coun John Windress, vice chairman of the council’s planning committee.
If he does not intervene the council will grant outline planning permission for the Wentworth Street proposal, subject to conditions.
However permission could then be challenged through a judicial review.
The lease to the operators of the current livestock market site is due to end later this year and there are plans to move it to another location.
The Fitzwilliam Estate has previously warned it may be forced to reconsider its planned retail scheme for the livestock market. The livestock market is to relocate to another location.
Pat Foxton, chairman of the Malton and Ryedale Farmers Market Group said yesterday a meeting was being held on Tuesday to discuss the next steps. “But a new market will go ahead,” he assured. “If necessary we have other sites in mind.”