All eyes will now turn to Eric Pickles after controversial plans to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street Car Park were passed by Ryedale District Council’s Planning Committee.
Campaigners against the development say they will now demand the Secretary of State for Communities “call in” the application and reverse the decision following Thursday’s meeting.
If the application is not called in, outline planning permission will be granted.
Around 100 people packed into the main hall at Malton School as the planning committee debated the application from GMI Holbeck (Malton) Ltd, the developer which wants to build a supermarket, petrol filling station, offices, car park and landscaping on the car park in Malton.
Lib Dem Cllr Lindsay Burr, who moved that the application should be refused, said: “I am looking at the long term interests of the community and the possibility of life being sucked out of Malton.”
She acknowledged the strength of feeling locally against the development – pointing to the 3,500 signature petition and views of the Malton and Norton Area Partnership.
“I’m taking into account that we have a flawed report, figures not reliably and not satisfactorily tested,” she added. “I’m also taking into account the inappropriate positioning of this supermarket which is not integrated to the centre of this town.”
Cllr Pete Walker, an Independent, said his major concern was the impact on traffic levels on the town and the residents of Smithson Court who would bear the brunt of the vehicles.
“If this was to go ahead and I was a resident of Smithson Court, I would rather stick my head in a chip pan than live there a day longer,” he said.
But their argument was lost when the six Conservative councillors voted against Cllrs Burr and Walker and Liberal councillors, Tommy Woodward and Luke Richardson.
That led to a mass exodus from the meeting with the four objectors and the vast majority of the audience leaving the council chamber.
Conservative Cllr Janet Sanderson said she was “disappointed” the opposing councillors had left the meeting early, before adding: “It is not unexpected those opposed to the development are not willing to listen to the views of others.”
Cllr Caroline Goodrick, deputy leader of Ryedale District Council, said the issues surrounding Wentworth Street Car Park and the planned development at Malton Livestock Market had been damaged by the “toxic relationship” between Ryedale District Council and the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate.
It was a relationship, she believed, which had brought out the “very worst in everyone.”
“We need a relationship where both parties are acting in the best interests of Ryedale, acknowledge each other’s views and do a better job of working together.”
Cllr Goodrick said she agreed with the views of the planning officers, who recommended the application be approved, saying that a supermarket on Wentworth Street would lead to increased footfall and make the Market Place more attractive for retailers, as well as creating jobs and more choice for shoppers who may normally travel to York or Scarborough for their shopping.
The vote was passed by six votes to nil.
Speaking after the meeting, Roddy Bushell, manager of Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, said: “The result was the expected one with councillors voting on strict party lines. Nevertheless it is disappointing that the whole reorganisation of the livestock market and the use of its site to revitalise the town centre, embraced with a sense of real optimism for Malton by the whole community, has been put on hold again by another ill-considered decision by Ryedale’s councillors.
“I say ‘on hold’, because we are convinced that their decision will not stand since it is not in accord with National Planning Policy, or in fact with their own Local Plan only recently adopted, and we will be asking the Secretary of State to call in the planning application and to reverse it.”
Totally Locally Malton and Norton and Malton Against Super Store also condemned the decision.
But a spokesman for GMI Holbeck (Malton) Land said: “We are pleased that Ryedale District Council supported their officer’s robust recommendation and approved our planning application.
“We would like to thank all of our supporters who attended the committee last week and also the very many who wrote in to the Council. As is the process for applications of this type, this will now be considered by the Secretary of State before a final decision is made. We are keen to work with all parties across Ryedale to deliver a scheme which will benefit the whole community.”