Petrol station firm praised after agreeing to scale back expansion plans in Georgian conservation area in Yorkshire

A national fuel retailer has been praised after backing down from plans for a large-scale extension to its retail operation in a Georgian conservation area following concerns of it impacting on residents.

The Harvest Energy site in Richmond

Richmondshire District Council's planning committee heard Harvest Energy's scaled back proposal for its Richmond filling station had resolved several potential environmental issues, paving the way to reopen the town's major petrol station following the devastating fire there last August.

Some residents had feared as the only major filling station in Richmond and with an absence of obvious alternative sites, Harvest Energy would be able to exert pressure on the council to retain many elements of its initial application to rebuild the Victoria Road business.

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The State Oil firm, one of Europe's largest independent suppliers and blenders of motor fuels, had initially proposed launching a 24-hour shop at the site, creating the equivalent of five full-time jobs.

It had also said its petrol station should be larger and incorporate parking spaces for the shop.

While the principle of rebuilding the shop and petrol station received almost universal support, the plans sparked an outcry as unusually for North Yorkshire the filling station site is surrounded by properties.

Alongside concerns about late-night noise and antisocial behaviour in the area, the plans attracted objections from Richmond Town Council and businesses over its scale, with claims it would dominate the surrounding conservation area, which features many listed properties.

The planning meeting heard in light of the concerns, Harvest Energy had cut its planned opening hours to between 6am and midnight, with a potential later start on Sunday mornings.

In addition, following negotiations, instead of introducing a typical petrol station forecourt roof, the firm has also agreed to build a continuous frontage terrace roof in natural blue slate, with the main flat roofed area set behind it.

Planning officers told members the amended plans would not have a significant adverse impact on neighbouring properties. They said whilst the rebuilt shop and filling station would differ from that of the pre-fire development, they did not believe it would result in any major additional noise, light or pollution issues.

Richmond and District the Civic Society and other groups and individuals objecting said the amended scheme had addressed many of the concerns it raised.

After the meeting, Richmond councillor Philip Wicks welcomed how Harvest Energy had worked closely with the authority's planning officers to come up with a compromise that was acceptable to everybody, particularly as there was a clear need for a filling station in the area. He said: "The applicants listened to the concerns of neighbours. It is a good result all round."