PROTESTORS against proposals to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street car park, in Malton, have vowed that “this is not the end of the story” after plans were approved.

Six members of Ryedale District Council’s planning committee voted to approve officer-recommended plans for a store and petrol station on Thursday night after the other four councillors walked out in protest.

Malton Against SuperStore (MASS) said the only way to describe the decision was “perverse”.

The protest group, led by Totally Locally Malton and Norton, the Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade and Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, said the council had disregarded public opinion, including 4,000 local opponents who had signed a petition against the store.

A spokesman said: “Councillors have decided to approve a planning consent for a superstore which they are told can only be Tesco, in the knowledge that it is very low down in Tesco’s priorities, so there is no certainty that the store will be built. If so, the site will stand empty for years.

“They knowingly took an unsafe decision, posing massive risks that it will threaten a certain £15m development of a supermarket on the livestock market site, that is in line with their own Local Plan, where Booths had confirmed an interest, a development which would stimulate further revival and expansion of the town centre.

"This is not the end of the story and we hope that the Secretary of State "calls in" the application and refuses it. If not, a legal challenge is almost certain to follow. To have passed this application was an exercise in wishful thinking."

The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate warned that the development of the town’s livestock market had now been put on hold following the council's decision. Manager Roddy Bushell said: “The result was expected, with councillors voting on strict party lines.

"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 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 application and reverse it.”

Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, said she was delighted the proposals had been accepted. She said: "We have reached the beginning of the end and I am very pleased, but disappointed four members walked out before that was made.

“The Fitzwilliam Estate has made a lot about the damage this will do to Malton, but I think it will be good for Malton and I have received many letters of support saying the same thing.”

A spokesman for the applicants GMI Holbeck Land said: “We are pleased the council supported their officer’s robust recommendation and approved our application. 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 to deliver a scheme which will benefit the whole community.”