A campaign group has been set up to “lead the resistance” against renewed plans to build a supermarket on Malton’s Wentworth Street car park.
MASS – Malton Against Super Store – is backed by Totally Locally Malton and Norton, Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade and the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate.
The group has established a website and online petition with plans for a further petition.
MASS member Emma Brooksbank said although there had been a major protest two years ago when a planning application was initially submitted, this time the town was speaking with a stronger and united voice.
“All the signs are that a total disaster is about to befall Malton. An entirely avoidable disaster, which almost everyone can foresee, it seems, except the people who will bring it about,” she said.
“Those who will bring it about are the majority of the elected members of Ryedale District Council, working with a Leeds property company, determined to force through a new use for Wentworth Street car park as a superstore to be operated by the likes of Tesco.
“We all see it as a disaster for Malton and MASS is aiming to lead the resistance against a supermarket,” she said.
“Malton is effectively the capital of Ryedale and this will have an impact on the wider area and not just people in Malton. It is therefore our responsibiltiy to make sure as many people as possible are aware of what is going on so they can make their feelings known.”
Jeremy Powell, on behalf of Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade, said a recent poll of members had given a resounding “no” to progression of the application.
“The difficulties that already exist for business in the town, not least the loss of the long-stay car parking in favour of the short-stay parking for the convenience of the supermarket customers, would be another difficulty for local hard-working, loyal and independent businesses.
“There is a successful application in place whereby a food shop appropriate to and sympathetic for the size of Malton and Norton centres is on hold. This development also includes car parking and would be on the current livestock site and, along with the Wentworth Street car park for long-stay, the town would thrive.
“Can a further progression of this planning application be for the benefit of the loyal independent businesses in the towns, or simply giving over the control of the town to an outside concern with nothing but corporate goals to drive them? While a large supermarket may promise a lot of minimum wage employment, no mention is made of the loss of existing jobs offering both service and experience.”
Last year, a Government planning inspector ruled that the district council should reconsider the approval of plans to develop the car park and that proposals to develop a food store on the site of the current Malton livestock market by the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate should be allowed.
The estate’s plan is for a medium-sized food hall, aimed at Waitrose or Booths, three retail units and a 170-space car park.
Roddy Bushell, estate manager, said: “The enthusiasm that has greeted the establishment of MASS has surprised everyone involved. Clearly this community has a good understanding of the issues and certainly wants its voice to be heard about this proposal.”
Ian Barraclough, from GMI Holbeck Land Ltd, which submitted a revised scheme in December, said: “We believe a new mid-sized supermarket at Wentworth Street, similar in size to the existing local Morrison’s store, will bring big benefits to the local community and the local economy.
“As well as providing a new petrol station, the store will also create more than 200 new jobs.
“With a larger and improved car park offering three hours of free parking, our store would provide a further reason for people to visit Malton to do their weekly shopping.
“Ryedale residents are already shopping in supermarkets, but many travel to York or Scarborough to do so.
“And they probably take advantage of supermarket fuel offers while thay are there.
“With an increasing population, Malton’s retail offer cannot afford to stand still.
“After all, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer’s are about to make Monks Cross an even more attractive retail destination.”
The planning application is expected to be discussed at a special meeting of Ryedale District Council’s planning committee next month.
To find out more about the development, go to www.thewentworthproject.com
To find out more about MASS go to www.maltons future.co.uk