PROTESTORS against plans to build a supermarket in Malton have handed over a petition ahead of a crunch meeting next week.
Plans to build a store and petrol station on Wentworth Street car park will go before a special meeting of Ryedale District Council's planning committee at Malton School on Thursday, April 24, at 6pm, with officers recommending the application is approved.
Yesterday (Tuesday) members of MASS (Malton Against SuperStore) presented a 3,804 "Say No to a Superstore in Malton" signature petition to planners at Ryedale House.
MASS, led by Totally Locally Malton and Norton, the Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade and Fitzwilliam Malton Estate, said that the petition gave local people a voice in the crucial decision on the future of Wentworth Street car park.
A spokesperson said: "Although the campaign has generated nationwide interest, the overwhelming majority of signatories are from the local area – from the community of Malton, Old Malton and Norton – the people who know the town well, have a clear idea of its distinct heritage and an equally clear idea of the kind of future they want for Malton and Norton – which they have made very plain does not include a superstore on the car park."
A 96-page report, published ahead of the planning meeting, indicates that 101 letters of objection have been submitted to the plans.
Concerns raised include the effect the proposed development would have in reducing in the number of people visiting shops and other outlets in Malton and the threat to the viability of the approved livestock market scheme, of which Booths has entered negotiations to lease a proposed supermarket on the site.
Objectors argue that if the district council is determined to develop the car park, a different user should be found such as a combination of car parking, housing and a medium range hotel.
A report commissioned by Morrisons as part of the consultation disagrees that the store is "overtrading" and says that since the 2010 extension congestion has ceased.
It added that they disagreed with the applicant’s assessment that the proposal will clawback about £11m of expenditure, which it says is currently leaking out of the area.
The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate also says in the report that it is "unlikely" to proceed with the livestock market scheme if the plans for Wentworth Street were approved and that this would represent a "significant impact" on planned investment in the town centre.
However, planning officers say they feel this should be treated with a degree of caution given that while "very concerned", Booths have not explicitly stated that they would not proceed.
" Although it is evident that a Booths store would provide an improved range and choice of convenience retailing, as sought by the Local Plan Strategy, it is accepted that another large foodstore in Malton would provide choice and competition for Morrisons and claw back leakage that is going to stores elsewhere and this has been reflected within a number of letters of support received from local residents in respect of the application," they add.
"A large foodstore on WSCP and a Booths store on the Livestock Market site would have a complementary role to one another.
The district council has received 89 letters of support, along with a further 10 unnamed letters and emails.
Supporters argue include that a new store would increase footfall and provide healthy competition and hopefully attract more big name stores to fill the empty shops.
A spokesperson for GMI Holbeck Land said: “We remain convinced that the majority of working people in Malton, Norton and Ryedale would like to see the wide range of weekly value retail that a family supermarket and petrol station at Wentworth Street can provide.
The additional shoppers attracted by a new supermarket with free parking will also spend time visiting the town. Malton cannot afford to standstill while the retail offer in places like Monks Cross is constantly improving.”