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Accusations as inquiry into Malton’s cattle market site decision opens
5:00pm Wednesday 12th September 2012 in News
The livestock market in the centre of Malton. The refusal to allow the site to be used for a retail development is being examined at a public inquiry being held this week
THE interests of good and proper planning have been sacrificed on the altar of commercial gain.
That was the accusation hurled at Ryedale District Council at the opening of a public inquiry yesterday into a decision on Malton ’s cattle market site.
The claim was made in the opening address of Peter Village QC for the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate which is appealing against the council’s rejection of the Estate’s plans for the site to be turned into a mixed retail development.
The council had instead, earlier this year, opted instead for a superstore development on the town’s Wentworth Street car park – a move which could net some £5 million for the council.
And there was a new twist this week in the long-running sage over the future of the livestock market with the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate serving a notice on the firm that leases it to quit by October next year.
It said this week that serving the notice would pave the way for the area to be redeveloped in a way that would fully contribute to a prosperous economic future for the town centre.
At the inquiry at the Ryedale Indoor Bowling Club in Norton , headed by Government planning inspector David Wildsmith, Ryedale District Council was accused by Mr Village of acting in a bizarre, unreasonable and unjustified manner over its decisions.
But Jonothan Easton, representing the council, said the decision had been taken by democratically elected council members and the reasons for refusal relied on up-to-date national policy guidance.
The inquiry, which was expected to last four days, including a site visit, came at the same time as another inquiry headed by Government inspector Stephen Pratt into the Ryedale Plan where the council was also in the firing line over some of its objectives.
Mr Village said the livestock market site had long been identified as one for redevelopment and the decision to refuse permission was “nothing short of extraordinary”.
He added: “It was unreasonable and unjustified” and was the antithesis of the Government’s commitment to growth.
“It is fair to say the livestock market site has always been seen as a prime opportunity for an appropriate form of retailing adjacent to the existing town centre,” said Mr Village, adding: “It is very difficult to see any reason for witholding permission.”
He argued the council has had difficulty in effecting any reasons for refusal and its reasons were “fundamentally misconceived”.
He argued the council’s reasoning was “bizarre” in alleging the site was not suitable for the proposed retail development.
But Mr Easton hit back, saying the council’s reasons for refusal were “sufficiently clear and concise” and there was concern it would be less attractive to an operator compared with the plans to redevelop the Wentworth Street car park.
The market scheme’s design was poor and it would have an adverse impact on the area, he stated.
The council did not object to the principle of redeveloping the site but there was room for only one new supermarket in Malton and it would be a lost opportunity to provide the high street retailing which was missing from the town and which was sorely needed.
There was sufficient information for the council to properly judge on whether the scheme was suitable, he argued.
Mr Easton said the council was not saying the livestock market should remain where it was and the loss of the site should not be a bar to development but the market needed somewhere else to go to.
He stressed that the council’s refusal relied on current national policy guidance.
In a statement about the notice served on livestock market operator Boulton and Cooper, Estate manager Roddy Bushell said: “The decision is no surprise to the auctioneers as we have been clear with them for some time that the notice to quit for October 2013 would be served and had been taken to leave no doubt about its intentions in the appeal against the decision by the council to refuse its planning.
Mr Bushell added: “Our hand has been forced to serve notice now, albeit the measure has always been an inevitable one.
“It is important to make it abundantly clear that we are able to have unencumbered and vacant possession so that we can deliver the much- needed and widely-supported investment in Malton’s town centre.”
The Estate is also continuing to demand a judicial review of the decision by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, not to call-in the planning permission for a superstore on Wentworth Street car park.