Open letter to Minister calls for review of supermarket decision

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Protesters have called on the Government to review a Yorkshire council’s decision to encourage the building of a superstore in the middle of a North Yorkshire market town.

An open letter to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was signed by 90 campaigners battling the plans in Malton, among them a host of dignitaries including Sir Richard Beckett of Rievaulx, Simon Howard of Castle Howard, Baroness Masham of Ilton, the Earl of Mexborough and Sir Tatton Sykes of Sledmere, as well as the Mayor of Malton, Jason Fitzgerald-Smith, and broadcaster Selina Scott.

The letter, published yesterday, is an attempt to put pressure on Mr Pickles to call in Ryedale Council’s decision to give outline permission for a store on land it owns – meaning it is likely to make £5m when a client is chosen, from contenders including Tesco.

One of the leaders of the campaign against the plan, and one of the signatories to the open letter, is Malton pet shop owner Denys Townsend.

He said yesterday: “If the council planning committee had voted against, the developers could have appealed. But we cannot appeal. We can only put pressure on the Secretary of State to use his powers to call the matter in for review.

“He could call it in because it is a matter of national concern and one of our tactics is to try to make it one.”

The latest letter to Mr Pickles – who has already received a 2,000-name petition on the subject – also suggests he should test the Ryedale decision against his department’s new National Planning Policy Framework, which was published just two days before the decision was taken.

The letter says: “If this policy is not to fall at the first hurdle, Mr Pickles must call this matter in for objective review. To allow it to stand ... will encourage large supermarket predators to believe that the NPPF policies have no weight and to bully their way into smaller towns, impoverishing their high streets.”