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Council’s decision on Wentworth Street car park flawed
3:10pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in News
THE future of Wentworth Street car park in Malton is once again uncertain after Ryedale District Council accepted its decision to build a supermarket on the site must be reconsidered.
A technical point around the interpretation and application of national retail planning policy was conceded by the council’s retail consultants at the five-day public inquiry, meaning that whatever the outcome of the hearing, the decision has to go back to the planning committee.
The public inquiry follows an appeal by the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate against Ryedale District Council’s refusal to grant planning permission to redevelop Malton livestock market with a medium-sized supermarket and other units.
Coun Paul Andrews (Ind) said opponents of the Wentworth Street car park superstore have been vindicated.
“Sadly, the taxpayer will have to pay for the council’s mistakes – not only for the council’s own costs in an expensive public inquiry, but the Fitzwilliam Estate has also requested the inspector to order the council to pay their costs. If an order for costs is made, the total cost to the tax payer could come to several hundreds of thousands of pounds,” he added.
“During the public inquiry, conducted before an impartial and independent government inspector, Ryedale District Council agreed that its decision to grant planning permission for a huge new superstore on Wentworth Street car park could not stand and would have to be referred back to its planning committee. At the hearing, the council’s team also accepted that the cattle market was a better site for a supermarket, and that this would have to be taken into account when the Wentworth Street car park application comes back to committee.”
Coun Andrews said: “In these circumstances, it is difficult to see how the council could grant permission for a second time without having to face a judicial review and wasting much more of the taxpayers’ money on legal costs in an action in which the council’s case would be doomed to fail.
“The tables have been turned on the council, and hopefully this will be the end of this unfortunate saga. Enough public money has been wasted, and one hopes Ryedale will not waste more public money on an even more expensive end-game.”
Mayor of Malton Coun Jason Fitzgerald-Smith said that while local opinion had consistently remained in one direction, and been supported by a majority of the elected representatives of Malton and Norton , Ryedale District Council had been equally consistent in dismissing that opinion.
He said: “If decisions are made contrary to the local wish they should be supported by relevant evidence, properly analysed, interpreted and weighed.”
Roddy Bushell, on behalf of the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, said that now that the planning inquiry had closed, all the arguments have been presented and it would be best simply to wait for the inspector’s report and decision.
“During the inquiry, Ryedale District Council conceded that the decision to grant consent for a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park was unlawful, and would have to return to the planning committee to be reconsidered.
“The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate is on record as saying the original decision was “incorrect and unreasonable” and welcomes the admission by the council that they must consider the application again, this time within the law and, we trust, correctly and reasonably.”
A spokesman for Ryedale District Council said: “The inquiry considered a number of issues including the reasons Ryedale District Council gave for the refusal. The outcome of the inquiry is not known, with the inspector’s decision letter expected to be released in approximately six weeks.
“During the inquiry and detailed questioning of witnesses, a number of issues were raised, in particular around national retail planning policy.
“Ryedale District Council’s retail consultants have conceded a technical point around the interpretation and application of national retail planning policy, which means that whatever the outcome of the inquiry, the planning decision on Wentworth Street car park, Malton, will have to be reconsidered by the planning committee.”