Claims superstore woes are hitting investment in district

A bitter battle over rival supermarket plans in Malton is stalling investment in the area warnings were made today as another legal twist in the saga was announced.

Malton town centre

Concerns were raised on both sides the rival proposals are harming the local economy on a day when national figures revealed Britain’s struggling supermarkets are sitting on more than 1,000 acres of land which they are not currently building on.

Councillors agreed to grant permission to a developer to build a superstore at Wentworth Street and opted to throw out a rival bid from the Fitzwilliam estate for a food store. However a planning inspector later ordered a rethink and granted permission to the estate’s plans. But last year the Wentworth Street proposals were again backed by councillors.

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The Fitzwilliam Malton Estate recently lost its bid for a judicial review into the decision to grant permission for the Wentworth Street plans through the Planning Court but today said it now plans to take the issue to the Court of Appeal.

The council wants to sell off Wentworth Street car park in the heart of Malton for a supermarket while, the Fitzwilliam Estate, wants to develop the site of the Malton livestock market.

Both sides today argued that the deadlock is hampering investment in the Ryedale district - which has the lowest average annual wages in the region. Major local landowner, the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate says the prospect of a rival supermarket could muddy its plans which already have outline permission while Ryedale District Council (RDC) said plans to sell-off the car park could provide much-needed affordable homes and help attract new businesses into the area. The sale is expected to generate £5m.

Roddy Bushell, estate manager, for the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate said: “This is important to Fitzwilliam Malton Estate and for the future economic health of Malton and Norton because, by granting this consent on Wentworth Street car park, RDC has created a great deal of uncertainty.”

He said the knowledge there was planning consent at Wentworth Street: “creates doubt and loss of confidence for potential investors in the already consented livestock market site.”

Coun Linda Cowling, council leader, said its plans would benefit the district. ”Ryedale has a great opportunity to invest the money into projects which will benefit our residents in terms of homes and helping to provide new well-paid employment,” she said.

Property agent CBRE said it had found that while the pipeline of new grocery stores in the UK is 46.61 million square feet, just 2.8 million square feet is being built. This means 43.81 million square feet of land is lying empty - either subject to a proposal for a new food store, or with permission already granted.

Store-building work has fallen by 20 per cent compared with a year ago with the large supermarkets battling tumbling sales amid a squeeze from discounters Aldi and Lidl. Retailers have faced accusations of hoarding land which could be used for housing and other uses. But the squeeze in sales and a shift away from bigger stores presents them with a challenge about what to do with their existing building plans.