Two Local Enquiries - Mercury October 2012


When I put myself up for election last year, I said I was against a superstore on Wentworth Street Car Park, in favour of the redevelopment of the Cattle Market, and of the relocation of the Livestock Market. I pledged to oppose more than 1,000 new houses over the next fifteen years, and I thought the amount of new employment land to be allocated should not exceed 27.9 hectares.


So what have I done about this?


Last month there have been two major public enquiries, the first being the appeal against the Council’s refusal of permission for the redevelopment of the Cattle Market area, and the second  being the hearing into the draft Ryedale District Plan.


I supported the Fitzwilliam Estate’s Cattle Market appeal, and asked the inspector to require the Estate to set aside a substantial sum of money to assist with the relocation of the Cattle Market. We don’t have the inspector’s decision yet, but the Council made some very important admissions during cross-examination by the Estate’s barrister which forced them to admit that their decision to grant permission for Wentworth Street Car Park was badly flawed and would have to be referred back to committee. It now looks unlikely that there will be a superstore on the car park.


I have also spent two weeks at the hearing into the draft Ryedale District Plan. Enquiries of this kind are not easy, as the debate involves several wheel-barrow loads of long technical documents, and it is difficult for anyone who is not an expert to work out which are the key documents which one needs to focus on. Fortunately, I do have some of this expertise as a result of a previous life doing planning advocacy, but even so the process has been far from easy.


It is difficult to summarise the issues in a very brief article, and no doubt I will be accused of over-simplification. Basically, what the draft plan does is to tie up most of Ryedale with environmental  constraints which will virtually prevent  any development outside the market towns and a few service villages, and will dump 50% of all new housing and 80% (out of 44ha) of all new factory development on Malton and Norton. The objective is clearly to preserve the rest of Ryedale in aspic, whilst urbanising Malton and Norton, so that the character of the settlement as a country market town is changed forever.


I have argued strongly against this. I have taken as my guide the Malton and Norton Neighbourhood Plan, which accepts 1,000 new houses only, and 19ha of new employment land at Malton and Norton. There is not the room to set out the arguments here as they are highly technical. However, to be brief, I have suggested that the plan is unsound because it does not meet the “objectively assessed needs” (as defined by the government) of the country areas by restricting growth there, and that therefore the country villages should accept some new market-led housing development so as to take the pressure off Malton and Norton.


The plan does not specifically allocate the Eden Road area as a new science and technology business park, but it does give the green light for this, even though the latest Employment Land Review Update gives little support. I know this is a site which deeply concerns the residents of Old Malton. I have therefore argued that land for new science and technology businesses should be found on existing industrial estates or by extending them. Ryedale should assess the take up of these, before looking to set up a new business park.


It will be some time before the outcome of the hearing is known.









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