THE decision to reject an application for a new BP petrol station in Norton has been welcomed by councillors.

The controversial application would have involved the construction of a petrol station, Marks & Spencer food store and Wild Bean coffee shop, with parking, on the former Malton Clothing factory site by Springfield Garth in Welham Road; a site which has sat unused for nearly 20 years.

But members of Ryedale District Council’s (RDC) planning committee unanimously voted to reject the application - in line with their planning officers’ recommendation - at their recent meeting.

The reason for the refusal was related to so-called “sequential tests” - safeguards in planning law that require applicants to first rule out other available sites when applying for planning permission.

RDC planning officers deemed the Malton livestock market site in Horsemarket Road a better site, partly due to a lower flood risk.

Jason Lowes, of the application agents Rapleys, said that the Welham Road site had been vacant for many years and was a highly sustainable site for development.

He said he had been advised by BP that they weren’t interested in any other site in Malton, including the livestock market, so refusal of the application would mean “the jobs and investment wouldn’t come to the town”.

He also argued that, as a petrol station development, the sequential test need not apply to the application under planning law.

But Ryedale planners said that barristers had confirmed the need to apply the test. Committee councillors were united in rejecting the plans.

Cllr Mike Potter added: “I can’t see a much worse location for a development such as this.”

Cllr Elizabeth Shields said: “I really believe this is not the right place for this particularly application.

"I would personally like BP to go down the York Road to the industrial estate there.”

Di Keal, district and town councillor for Norton West, said after the meeting she was “delighted” with the decision.

"Norton is already plagued by too much traffic congestion and air pollution especially since the traffic priorities have been changed at the Welham Road, Church Street and County Bridge junction. It would have increased the level of risk to pedestrians and cyclists in what is principally a residential area of the town.

“Everyone locally is keen to see this long neglected area developed and an improved streetscene, but BP’s proposal was a completely inappropriate use of this site.”