COUNCIL chiefs in Ryedale are to challenge a £251,000 costs claim by the owners of Malton Livestock Market after a decision to reject plans for its redevelopment was overturned.

Ryedale District Council turned down the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate’s proposals for a supermarket and other shops on the town-centre site last year.

But a Government planning inspector then ruled the scheme should be allowed and the authority should reconsider the controversial approval of plans to develop Wentworth Street car park.

The council has agreed in principle to sell part of the car park for a possible supermarket scheme, which would be worth £5 million.

Now, the Fitzwilliam Estate’s solicitors, Pinsent Masons, have lodged a claim against the authority for costs totalling £251,505 following its successful appeal against the original planning decision.

Of this sum, £131,726.94 relates to legal fees and £41,917.90 relates to VAT.

The estate’s appeal has already cost the council £10,325 in legal fees and £30,229 in other “professional costs”.

Malton councillor Paul Andrews tabled questions to last week’s council meeting querying why planning officers recommended the Wentworth Street scheme should be approved and the livestock market plans rejected.

The move came after planning inspector David Wildsmith said errors were made in the planning process and councillors who took the decisions may have been given incorrect advice.

The council’s response said planners believed their recommendations were “correct at the time” and the recommendation to refuse the Fitzwilliam Estate’s plans was made “in good faith”, adding that Mr Wildsmith said he did not feel the council had “acted unreasonably” in rejecting the market proposals.

Coun Andrews said: “If you do not believe officers were incompetent, there is only one other possibility and that is they were unduly influenced by political considerations, which is outrageous.”

But the council said planning officials were not influenced by political considerations.