AN appeal against the decision to refuse plans for a petrol station and forecourt shop on a derelict piece of land in Norton have gone before a Government inspector.

The original application, which included the construction of a BP petrol station, Marks & Spencer food store and Wild Bean coffee shop, with parking, on the former Malton Clothing factory site in Welham Road, was unanimously rejected by members of Ryedale District Council’s (RDC) planning committee last August.

However, an appeal was made by BP with the three-day hearing held at Ryedale Community and Leisure Centre.

Mike Gwilliam, who represented Malton and Norton Town Councils, with the help of Cllr John Howard, said they had concentrated their evidence on the traffic problems in Norton, especially since they changed the Church Street junction and the effect it has had on traffic, particularly in Nicholas Street.

“We had undertaken a new traffic survey and we were able to demonstrate the severe levels off congestion we that now occurred,” he said.

“We also stated that things would get worse with the doubling of train frequencies in the near future. We explained that we were not ‘nymbies ‘and wanted to see a new M&S store in the area but not in this location. We pointed out that a planning application for a new petrol filling station and shop at Eden Farm had now been made and said that we considered this to be a much better location than the appeal site.

“We now await the inspector’s decision, but whatever the outcome I am convinced that the two town councils were right to contest the appeal and defend the community against this development, and it was good to see them working together.”

Cllr Di Keal, Liberal Democrat district and town councillor for Norton West, said: “This was a David versus Goliath battle with the town councils, acting on behalf of the community, taking on a giant multinational.

“However, we very much hope that the inspector will draw on the local knowledge and the hours spent by local people on survey work showing the existing high level of congestion in the Welham Road area.

“Our argument illustrated how much damage the proposed development will do in increasing traffic and pollution levels, as well as dangers to pedestrians and cyclists.

“It’s important to us that the inspector attaches weight to this local knowledge about traffic chaos and damage to residents health and well-being.”

No-one from BP was available for comment.