7:46am Friday 17th February 2012
By Mark Stead
OPPONENTS of a proposed new supermarket in a North Yorkshire town have welcomed a new report which claimed it would damage the area and threaten local businesses.
The Retail Development Partnership has drawn up plans for a store and five houses, covering more than 2,000sqm at the former Falcon Office Furniture site in Easingwold, saying the scheme would prevent shoppers travelling to other areas and create new jobs.
But the application has sparked a wave of protest from residents and traders, with more than 2,000 people signing a petition against the development.
Now a report commissioned by Hambleton District Council into the development’s potential impact has said the town centre would suffer a “negative effect” and its “vitality and viability would worsen”.
Retail planning consultants England & Lyle said Easingwold’s character would be harmed if the new store led to existing shops, including the Co-op supermarket, going out of business and the quality of shopping in the town could decline.
They also claimed the development would be “inappropriate”, could threaten shops in nearby villages and Easingwold’s market, and clashed with planning guidelines.
“We have reservations about the extent of the benefits of regeneration and employment, which do not outweigh the potential harm to Easingwold Town centre,” said the report.
“Choice and competition would improve, but this has to be weighed against the negative impacts of the proposed development. There is likely to be a significant adverse impact on convenience goods trade and overall retail trade in Easingwold town centre. Shoppers would transfer from the Co-op to the new store and would be less inclined to visit shops in the town centre.”
Easingwold Town Council has recommended refusal of the scheme, which is set to go before the district council’s planning committee next month.
Terry Brown, of the Keep Easingwold Special campaign, said: “We are pleased the council sought independent advice on this proposal and believe the only fair decision which can now be made is to reject this inappropriate development.”
It has not been confirmed which supermarket chain would operate from the store if it is approved.
The developers say it would reduce the number of shopping trips taken outside Easingwold and there would be “spin-off” benefits for the town’s traders.
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