A GOVERNMENT inspector has given the go-ahead for plans for a petrol station and forecourt shop on a derelict piece of land in Norton.

The original application on the site of the former Malton Clothing factory site in Welham Road was rejected by members of Ryedale District Council’s (RDC) planning committee in August 2018.

It included plans for the construction of a BP petrol station, Marks & Spencer food store, Wild Bean coffee shop and parking.

However, after an appeal was made by BP against the decision, the planning committee subsequently voted against fighting it as council officers suggested the company had provided new information which answered the concerns about the original application.

The three-day appeal hearing was held at Ryedale Community and Leisure Centre in September.

In his report, inspector Roger Catchpole said, although RDC had withdrawn all reasons for refusal, Malton and Norton town councils had subsequently decided to contest the appeal on the grounds of congestion, air quality and flooding issues.

However, Mr Catchpole concluded that the plans would not significantly harm the local road network and here was no substantial evidence that wider highway safety would be impaired.

He added that the town councils had argued the garage would become a “shopping destination in its own right” leading to increased traffic flow.

“Given that the net retail floor area would be just over half the gross floor area, I find it highly unlikely that this would be the case.

“Consequently, only a limited range of goods associated with the M&S retail offer would be available and I therefore accept that it would be a convenience outlet rather than destination in its own right.”

Mr Catchpole also said sufficient evidence had been submitted for the flood risk assessment and that there was no objection from the local environmental health officer regarding harm to air quality.

“Additional concerns were raised by local residents in relation to noise and light pollution, anti-social behaviour and vibration, as well as the pollution of water courses, drainage and archaeology,” he added.

“I find that these concerns either do not warrant the refusal of the scheme or that they are capable of being controlled though the use of suitable conditions.”

Norton resident Mike Gwilliam, who spoke at the appeal on behalf of Norton and Malton Town Councils, said: “I was of course very disappointed, but not entirely surprised.

“During both the inquiry and in his final report the inspector gave little regard to the growing traffic congestion problems in the area and dismissed the results of the new traffic survey that we had so carefully provided.”

Mr Gwilliam added: “He also seemed to ignore the powerful evidence of the traffic problems and local opposition to the proposal presented by several town councillors.

“Perhaps most disappointing was his dismissal of the patently better site we proposed at Eden Farm, the subject of a current planning application,on very flimsy grounds.”

Mr Gwilliam added: “Overall he seemed to give far more weight to the wishes of the all powerful oil company with its vast resources, than to the environmental problems and the inherent unsustainability of the proposal.

“I am afraid this was yet another example of the way in which the Government has now skewed the planning system so that it is now weighted heavily in favour of the developer, with the town councils treated as the poor relation.

“I am, however, glad that the town councils agreed to fight this appeal and did their best to defend local people from inappropriate development.

A BP spokesman said: “We are pleased to have received consent to our proposal, and we look forward to viewing the relevant planning conditions.”