AS the commercial heart of Ryedale, Malton boasts a formidable battalion of supporters who are determined to defend the town’s historic character.
When proposals were submitted that could have led to the building of a superstore in the town centre, a number of celebrities, including the broadcaster Selina Scott, lined up with local people to oppose it.
But all communities must move with the times, and yesterday the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate, which owns commercial and residential property in the town, revealed that the New Year had brought new lettings, which suggests that the economic prospects for Yorkshire’s market towns might be improving.
Roddy Bushell, the estate manager at the Fitzwilliam Estate, said “This time of year can be tough for traders in small towns, but in Malton we have this evidence of confidence from people interested in starting new businesses.”
The future of Clarks of Malton, a family clothes and shoe shop, has been secured. A local entrepreneur, Jane Schofield, will be taking on the lease of the property and the ownership of the business, when the current owners, Jane and Roger Bradley, retire.
Tobias Burckhardt, a surveyor at Fitzwilliam Estate, said: “One of the many great things about Malton is the abundance of family-run businesses. We are delighted that Clarks of Malton will continue to trade in Malton.”
Rory Queen and his partner Jackie have just opened Rory’s Bar in the Market Place. In the spring, Mr Queen will be expanding his business when he opens a family ice cream parlour in the adjacent property at 55 Market Place. Other recent success stories include the Talbot Hotel, which has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment by the Fitzwilliam Estate.
Leading local businessman Denys Townsend, who runs the Linton Pet Shop in Malton, said: “The town is vibrant. It has struggled under the recession but we have confidence in the long term future of the town. People are often surprised by the quality of the town’s independent retail sector.”
Last May, protesters called on the Government to review Ryedale Council’s decision to encourage the building of a superstore in the middle of Malton.
An open letter to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was signed by 90 campaigners opposing the plans in Malton, including Selina Scott. In October, Inspector David Wildsmith ruled Ryedale District Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a superstore on Wentworth Street car park in Malton earlier in the year was flawed, a move that means the application will now have to be reconsidered by the authority.
The ruling followed a planning inquiry earlier in 2012, after the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate challenged the council’s decision to deny it permission to build a smaller food store and retail units on Malton Livestock Market.
A spokesman for Ryedale Council said yesterday: “Following the planning appeal regarding the proposed food store and retail scheme on the current livestock market site in Malton, and the decision to allow that appeal, it is expected that the council’s planning committee will be reconsidering the application for a food store and petrol filling station on part of the Wentworth Street car park site.
“At this time there is no direction from the Secretary of State regarding the Wentworth Street application.”