A PLANNING chief has defended the decision which Total claims has led to its closing down a York filling station.

The Evening Press reported last night that Bristows garage, in Fulford Road, has shut down, with the site set to be decommissioned and marketed for sale for an alternative use.

Local motorists have been left having to make a two-mile round journey to a station in Fulford village to buy petrol.

Plans by Total to expand the station and turn it into a 24-hour operation were turned down last year by City of York Council planners after objections from local residents and businesses.

Total said in a statement yesterday that the current station would not make an operational return in the longer-term.

It said it had made "strenuous" efforts to improve the service station, but had been consistently frustrated by City of York Council planners.

But Cliff Carruthers, head of development control, said today that permission was refused because of the impact on what is a conservation area.

The expanded station would have been a much greater intrusion than the existing one. The canopy would have protruded further towards Fulford Road, and other buildings would have been close to Grade Two listed buildings on either side, with noise and other implications. Suggestions by the authority of possible restrictions to ease the impact had not been acceptable to Total.

Updated: 11:14 Wednesday, May 21, 2003