CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a supermarket and petrol station in a picturesque North Yorkshire market town have been thrown into disarray after a judge blocked the scheme, saying councillors who approved it had been misled.
The High Court judge overruled Ryedale Council’s decision to allow the development, on the site of the Wentworth Street car park in Malton.
Malton is renowned for its food shops, and many residents feared the plan would damage business for local independent retailers.
Reacting to the decision Denys Townsend, the chairman of the Malton and Norton Business in Action group, said: “The British justice system has agreed with what a lot of us have thought for a long time, that the planning permission was unlawful.
“This does raise questions about Ryedale Council. This whole thing must have cost Ryedale taxpayers more than half a million pounds, with potentially more to come.
“It has been an unacceptable situation for the people and traders of Malton.”
In his ruling, planning judge Mr Justice Dove quashed the permission given by the council to developers GMI Holbeck Land Ltd last September.
He said the council’s planning committee, in giving the scheme the green light, had been misled as they had not been told about the benefits of a rival plan to build a shopping development on the town’s old livestock market.
The legal challenge was brought by local landowners Fitzwilliam Malton Estates, which owns a large part of Malton town centre and is behind plans for the development of the livestock market.
Roddy Bushell, estate manager for FME, said: “The outcome of this case is tremendous news for Malton.
“It has been a long fight but finally this shadow over the town is lifting.”
The controversy over the plans has raged for four years, with celebrity resident Selina Scott supporting the “no” campaign against the supermarket plan.
No one from GMI Holbeck Land Ltd was available to comment, but it is understood the company is considering an appeal.
Ryedale Council leader Linda Cowling said the council has a long-term vision to encourage economic growth and create jobs in Ryedale.
She said the ruling, if there is no appeal, “enables the application to be reconsidered by the planning committee at a later date”.