PROTESTORS against proposals to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park, in Malton, have vowed that “this is not the end of the story” after plans were approved.
Six members of Ryedale District Council’s planning committee voted to approve officer-recommended plans for a store and petrol station on Thursday night after the other four councillors walked out in protest.
Malton Against SuperStore (MASS) said the only way to describe the decision was “perverse”.
The protest group, led by Totally Locally Malton and Norton, the Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade and Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, said the council had disregarded public opinion, including 4,000 local opponents who had signed a petition against the store.
A spokesman said: “Councillors have decided to approve a planning consent for a superstore which they are told can only be Tesco, in the knowledge that it is very low down in Tesco’s priorities, so there is no certainty that the store will be built. If so, the site will stand empty for years.
“They knowingly took an unsafe decision, posing massive risks that it will threaten a certain £15m development of a supermarket on the livestock market site, that is in line with their own Local Plan, where Booths had confirmed an interest, a development which would stimulate further revival and expansion of the town centre. This is not the end of the story and we hope that the Secretary of State “calls in” the application and refuses it. If not, a legal challenge is almost certain to follow. To have passed this application was an exercise in wishful thinking.”
The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate warned that the development of the town’s livestock market had now been put on hold following the council’s decision. Manager Roddy Bushell said: “The result was expected, with councillors voting on strict party lines.
"It is disappointing that the whole reorganisation of the livestock market and the use of its site to revitalise the town centre, embraced with a sense of real optimism for Malton by the whole community, has been put on hold again by another ill-considered decision by Ryedale’s councillors.
“I say ‘on hold’, because we are convinced their decision will not stand since it is not in accord with National Planning Policy, or in fact with their own Local Plan only recently adopted, and we will be asking the Secretary of State to call in the application and reverse it.”
Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, said she was delighted the proposals had been accepted. She said: “We have reached the beginning of the end and I am very pleased, but disappointed four members walked out before that was made.
“The Fitzwilliam Estate has made a lot about the damage this will do to Malton, but I think it will be good for Malton and I have received many letters of support saying the same thing.”
A spokesman for the applicants GMI Holbeck Land said: “We are pleased the council supported their officer’s robust recommendation and approved our application. As is the process for applications of this type, this will now be considered by the Secretary of State before a final decision is made. We are keen to work with all parties to deliver a scheme which will benefit the whole community.”
How the battle started
THE latest round in the Malton “store wars” saga was played out on Thursday night witnessed by about 100 members of the public.
Plans for a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park were first unveiled in 2011, after Ryedale District Council voted to sell part of it for up to £5m. Developer GMI Holbeck said the Wentworth Project would bring people and employment to the area and prevent the millions of pounds lost by Malton shops each year through people travelling to York and Scarborough.
Opponents argued a store on the site would damage the centre of Malton and that the district council was selling the “family jewels”.
The same year a blueprint for the redevelopment of Malton’s livestock market and the creation of a new food store was also submitted to the planning authority.
The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate were the creators of the plan to demolish the livestock market and replace it with four retail units, including an “anchor” store, but their proposals were rejected at a special meeting of the district council’s planning committee in April 2012, while approval was given for Wentworth Street car park.
An appeal by the Estate led to a five-day public inquiry and the future of the site was thrown into uncertainty after the council’s decision was ruled to be flawed. A Government planning inspector said the council should reconsider approval of Wetworth Street plans and that proposals for Malton livestock market by the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate should be allowed.
An amended application for a foodstore and petrol station at Wentworth Street was submitted by GMI Holbeck Land Ltd last December and included plans for a walkway to Malton Market Place, free parking and a public piazza.
On Thursday, Ryedale District Council’s planning committee approved the plans and agreed that the Secretary of State be notified of the application and that outline permission be granted should the Secretary of State decide not to intervene.
Should permission be granted, subject to conditions and a section 106 agreement, there will be a period of six weeks during which the permission may be challenged through a judicial review.
‘Council has ignored warnings’
THE team behind the Totally Locally scheme said council members were ignoring the warnings of the harm the supermarket could do to Malton and Norton.
Totally Locally was set up last year as part of a scheme to encourage people to “love where they live”.
Since then a number of initiatives have taken place to encourage shoppers to use the services on their doorsteps, including a Fiverfest fortnight and Festive Fiver.
Emma Brooksbank, from the group, said: “Totally Locally is a national movement to underpin independent shops, jobs and healthy communities. Its ideals are supported by the Conservative Party through Localism. But it is painfully clear the local Conservative ruling group does not support Totally Locally.
"It is the Conservative councillors who have – twice now – voted to give permission for a store, ignoring all warnings of the harm that would do to Malton and Norton and the independent shops.
Approval for store
PLANS to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park, in Malton, were approved by Ryedale district councillors – despite four members of the planning committee walking out before the crucial vote.
Lindsay Burr, who represents Malton, Peter Walker, Luke Richardson and Tommy Woodward left the meeting and a motion recommending the plan be refused was lost.
The six remaining councillors – Janet Sanderson, Caroline Goodrick, Eric Hope, Stephen Arnold, David Cussons and John Windress, vice-chairman of the committee, approved the plan, subject to conditions.
About 100 members of the public attended the meeting, 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, Malton Town Council clerk Mike Skehan, district councillor 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 came before the council it had cost taxpayers £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 then there is a real and substantial risk that we may lose the livestock market development, which will mark the collapse of the Eden Camp project on which so many jobs depend and we are left with an out-of-town bog-standard Tesco.”
Roddy Bushell, estate manager for the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, which has entered negotiations with family-owned supermarket Booths to lease a proposed store in the livestock market redevelopment scheme, said approval would be 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.
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. There has been some unnecessary scaremongering.”
Speaking on behalf of the developer, Jonathan Wallace said: “Malton cannot afford to stand still while Monks Cross continues to improve. There is significant public support for this application.”
Proposing that the application be refused, Councillor Burr said: “There is a real possibility that the life will be sucked out of Malton if this is passed. The democratic view of local people should be listened to.”
Councillor Peter Walker, who seconded the motion, said he was concerned about the traffic levels and the impact on the surrounding areas. “It is going to be intolerable for those living nearby,” he said.
Councillor Eric Hope said: “This is about Ryedale, not just Malton. People need this so there is no longer a need to trek to Monks Cross.”
After the motion was 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.
Coun Sanderson said it was disappointing that they had chosen to leave and not listen to the views of others and moved for approval.
Councillor Goodrick said that with every planning application there were pros and cons. “The issues have been clouded by toxic relations,” she said. “Many believe this will be the ruination of Malton, but I believe it will increase footfall in town and make it more attractive to retailers, leading to more jobs and prosperity. It is it time for us all to work together instead of across the divide to secure the best future for Malton.”
Kate Barnard, 32, Norton: “I think Malton has got a lot of independent shops that are just starting to pick up again and it’s possibly going to be a bit of a backward step. I don’t think we need another supermarket because we have got lots already. I think the loss of the car park is a bit of a blow as well.”
Councillor Stephan Arnold, at Thursday’s meeting: “The livestock market plans are good for Malton and this is also good for the town. I am satisfied this development will bring benefits to Malton and Ryedale.”
Sammie Delaney, 28, Malton: “I think it’s a really good idea. I shop in York because there aren’t the shops in Malton and I think it will help to keep people shopping in the town. I know a lot of local businesses have mixed views, but surely the more people who stay in Malton the better.”
Anna Wheldon, 28, Scampston: “The thing that does bother me is the car park. I think there will be an impact because of that because at the moment everyone struggles at the best of times to park.”
Councillor Janet Sanderson, at Thursday’s meeting: “Malton has changed and we cannot prevent the leakage if infrastructure is not good. Look at Northallerton, which has a number of food stores – it is always busy with independent shops next to national retailers.”