PLANS for a new supermarket and health centre in a North Yorkshire market town look set to go ahead despite a split in public opinion.

A Jomast Developments application for a 3,490 sq m food store, petrol station and health unit on York Road, Easingwold, will go before Hambleton District Council’s planning committee on Thursday. It has been recommended for approval by council officials.

The proposal has divided people in the town.

Thirty-three out of 80 responses objected to the scheme, with many citing worries about the town’s thriving independent shops, while 46 were in favour.

The town council supports the plans saying it is particularly keen for the petrol station to be built in Easingwold, and Yorkshire Water’s concerns that the plans could damage the water supply under the site were withdrawn once revised plans were submitted with a diversion for the water main.

The official report for the planning committee says many people fear a supermarket will “threaten the diversity and viability of the existing retail provision” in the town, which is well served by independent shops and three convenience stores. In 2012, plans for a smaller supermarket on Stillington Road were turned down after consultants England and Lyle said it would have a detrimental effect on the independent shops in the town.

But planning officials think the bigger Jomast scheme will help stop “leakage” which happens with shoppers head to big supermarkets in Boroughbridge, Thirsk and Clifton Moor, York, for their weekly shopping.

The scheme includes space for “health uses” which Jomast’s development director Adam Hearld said would feature several services like doctors and dentist in one place.

He said: “We put three options to the public at the consultation stage – including a non-food retail unit and business units– but overwhelmingly people thought the health use would be the best option,” he said.

With plans only at outline stage no operators have yet signed up to take on either the supermarket or the health centre and the building process itself could take eight to nine months, Mr Hearld said.