York printing giant RR Donnelley looks to have won the green light to relocate to the former Samsung factory site near Knaresborough.

Harrogate borough councillors last night authorised planning officers to approve - subject to certain conditions - an application to build a 100,000 square foot extension to the factory at Flaxby.

But the "shroud of secrecy" surrounding the application by Leeds architects Philip Lees Associates came under fire at a planning committee meeting.

The firm has declined to say on whose behalf it is acting, saying the matter is confidential.

Planning chief Colin Brown told the committee that he knew who the potential occupier of the factory was, but could not reveal it. He said it was not necessary to know who might be coming to the site to decide on the application.

Coun Bill Brewis said: "We are very concerned that we as planning committee members cannot be told who is going to go into the building." Maureen White, speaking on behalf of Goldsborough and Flaxby Parish Council, said: "The application seems shrouded in secrecy. We still have no idea who will occupy the site and what manufacturing will take place."

But the Evening Press revealed last month that Donnelleys were understood to be behind the application.

We reported how the company was considering moving out of its present premises in Boroughbridge Road, York, where several hundred people are employed, to the factory just off the A59 York-Harrogate road, where Samsung's excavator manufacturing plant closed down more than a year ago.

Reliable sources told the Evening Press that this was just one of a number of possible sites which Donnelleys had been considering moving to. The company declined to comment.

Officers yesterday warned the committee to beware delaying a decision on the scheme because the company concerned was interested in a number of possible sites.

The warning came after members had suggested consent should be withheld at this stage to see if the occupier would be prepared to help fund a new rail spur into the site from the nearby York-Harrogate line.

Councillors heard there would be a number of important economic benefits to the district if the company concerned re-located to Flaxby, bringing 338 jobs with it and creating an additional 52.

Opposition to the scheme came from Goldsborough and Flaxby Parish Council, who were concerned about the increasing industrialisation of the rural area.

see COMMENT 'Democracy denied'

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