PLANS to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park, in Malton, were given the go-ahead by Ryedale district councillors - despite four members of the planning committee walking out before the crucial vote.
Councillors Lindsay Burr, who represents Malton ward, Peter Walker, Luke Richardson and Tommy Woodward left the meeting and a motion recommending refusal was lost.
The six remaining members - councillors Janet Sanderson, Caroline Goodrick, Eric Hope, Stephen Arnold, David Cussons and John Windress, vice-chairman of the committee, then went on to approve the application, subject to conditions.
About 100 members of the public attended the meeting, held at Malton School, to discuss the application by Leeds-based developer GMI Holbeck for a supermarket and petrol station on the site.
Those speaking against the plans included Malton's deputy mayor Councillor Paul Andrews, the town clerk Mike Skehan, district councillor, local resident Fiona Croft and Councillor James Fraser representing Malton and Norton Area Partnership.
District councillor Edward Legard, who also opposed the application, said the last time it has come before the council it had cost the taxpayer £200,000.
"Some in this council will stop at nothing to force this application through despite the overwhelming public opposition," he said.
"If you do approve there is a real and substantial risk that we may lose the livestock market area will not get development and mark the collapse of the Eden Camp project on which so many jobs depend while we are left with an out-of-town bog-standard Tesco."
He added: "Exercise a degree of moral courage and confine this retched application to the dustbin of history where it belongs."
Roddy Bushell, estate manager for the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, which has entered negotiations with the family-owned supermarket Booths to lease a proposed supermarket on the livestock market redevelopment scheme, said approval would be a high risk for the town.
"There is not room for two supermarkets and approval will lead to zero investment and a challenge in the courts which will bring further cost to the taxpayer," he said.
However, retired shop owner Jane Bradley said a supermarket would be a step forward for the town.
"This is a superb site and will reduce traffic congestion and ease parking problems in the market place," she said.
"The parking will also allow people plenty of time to walk into the town centre to see the shops which provide quality produce and personal service. There has been some unnecessary scaremongering and these do not reflect my views of those of people that I know."
Speaking on behalf of the developers, Jonathan Wallace said the development would help reduce the £30m that leaked out of the area to York and Scarborough.
"Malton cannot afford to stand still while Monks Cross continues to improve," he said.
"About 1,500 new homes are planned for Malton and Norton - there is a need for a new store and there is significant public support for this application."
Proposing that the application was refused, Coun Burr, said she as looking at the long term interests of the local community.
"There is a real possibility that the life will be sucked out of Malton if this application is passed," she added.
"The democratic view of local people should be listened to - this is detrimental to the economy and vibrancy of the town and will have a negative impact on jobs and businesses."
Coun Walker, who seconded the motion, said he as extremely concerned about the traffic levels and the immediate impact on the surround areas.
"It is going to be intolerable for those living in the area which will be chocked up with traffic 24/7," he said.
However, Coun Sanderson said she wanted to avoid another expensive mistake.
"It is not very impressive that only 3,500 signed the petition when in my ward we collected 15,000 against the gas plant," she said.
Councillor Stephan Arnold said the store would provide competition for Morrisons and relieve traffic congestion.
"I have talked to a lot of people in Malton and most and most are not bothered or in favour of it," he added. "The plans for the livestock market are good for Malton and this is also good for the town. I will not be bullied by a minority group and I am satisfied this development will bring benefits to Malton and Ryedale."
Councillor Eric Hope said the plans would stimulate trade and encourage new business in the area.
"This is about Ryedale, not just Malton, people need this so there is no longer a need to trek to Monks Cross for food and petrol," he added.
After the motion as lost six votes to four, councillors Burr, a Liberal Democrat, Walker, an independent and Liberals Richardson and Woodward walked out along with the majority of the public audience to a slow clap.
Coun Sanderson said it was disappointing that they has chosen to leave and not listen to the views of others and moved that the officer's recommendation was approved.
"Malton has changed in the last few years and we cannot prevent the leakage if the infrastructure is not good," she said. "Look at Northallerton which has a number of food stores - the town is always busy with independent shops next to national retailers and luxury items next to daily goods."
Councillor Caroline Goodrick said that with every planning application there were pros and cons and someone would always be disappointed.
"The issues have been clouded by toxic relations, she added.
"Many believe a supermarket will be the ruination of Malton, but I believe it will increase the footfall in town and make it more attractive to retailers leading to more job opportunities and prosperity for Malton.
Coun Goodrick said: "It is it time for us all to work together instead of across the divide to secure the best future for Malton."