A SUPERMARKET'S plans for an historic chapel in York could face a legal challenge from disappointed campaigners.

Sainsbury's were given permission last Thursday to convert the Groves Chapel in Union Terrace into a convenience store, with 16 new flats also on the site.

Neighbours from Union Terrace shouted "absolute disgrace" after a City of York Council area planning committee granted planning permission.

Now Hope Centre, a Christian group based in Scarcroft, is taking legal advice on whether they could fight for a judicial review to overturn the decision. It has lodged a formal complaint with the council.

Michael Askew, from the group, spoke of anger that Cllr John Galvin was able to chair the planning sub-committee that decided the application, even though he is a York Hospital governor.

The hospital has sold the building, and the planning approval was granted on Cllr Galvin's casting vote as chairman.

He declared a personal interest at the meeting, but said the governor's role was not involved in operational matters at the hospital and he stayed in the chair throughout the meeting.

Cllr Galvin said he had taken advice before the meeting and was right to take part.

He added: "The hospital board of governors sounds far grander than is actually it. It represents members of the trust, who could be anyone who lives in the area, and I also represent the city council on that board."

He added that it was "certainly not the case" that he had been representing the hospital's interest in voting for planning permission which would allow a more profitable sale of the chapel building.

Mr Askew said strong evidence about the traffic problems had been "just brushed aside".

He said: "Union Terrace, where people will park to go to Sainsbury's, is very narrow and can only be entered from one end. It already has a lot of traffic problems and we have photographic evidence, but that was all waved away by the planning committee."

Other concerns - such as how well the road surface could cope with extra traffic - were also ignored, he said.

Mr Askew insisted the complaint against Cllr Galvin was not personal, but borne out of concerns that someone could not represent the hospital's interest in the case at the same time as representing the best interests of people in the area.

The city council spokesman confirmed a formal complaint has been received and was being dealt with.

Cllr Galvin said the council had to decide this application, like all planning cases, within the strict confines of planning law, and added: "They are perfectly entitled not to agree with the planning decision, but it was taken on planning grounds. All the traffic and parking matters were dealt with."