Why Ryedale's new Town Centre Strategy will wreck Malton - March 2008

Like most people I have been concerned about the Cattle Market issue. I have had to balance the merits of the FitzWilliam planning application  against the need to retain the Cattle Market. My conclusion is that Malton needs both, and I have been doing my best to persuade all concerned to find a way of relocating the Cattle Market on the Showfield, and allowing the Fitzwilliam application to proceed


But, in the meantime, Ryedale’s consultants  have come up with a scheme which could both wreck the Fitzwilliam plans and force the closure of the Cattle Market.


Now we all know everybody believes that car parking fees in Malton are too high and discourage customers – everybody, that is, except Ryedale. Nevertheless, on January 31st,  five months after the Wentworth Street Car Park fees trial, the Community Services Committee was  asked to approve a highly controversial report which purports to show that the trial was not a success. Is it just a coincidence, one wonders, that,  just four weeks later, members received a report on Malton Town Centre advocating the building of a supermarket with a net sales area of 20,000 – 35,000 sq. ft. on Wentworth Street car park?


You don’t have to be a genius to realise that the cattle market cannot function without somewhere to park the vehicles used for transporting livestock. This has always been Wentworth Street car park. So, take away the car park, and the cattle market, if it continues on its present site, will have to close. Of course, if the cattle market is relocated, more room will be required for parking vehicles on the new site. Further, the greater the cost of building a new vehicle park for a relocated cattle market, the less likely the relocation, and again, the cattle market may be forced to close.


And, if the Cattle Market is relocated  and includes a brand new park for their vehicles, farmers, when they are not busy in the market, will cross what is now Wentworth Street car park and stop at the new superstore, and town centre shops  will lose business.


The impact on the Estate’s plans could be almost as severe. They believe a smaller food hall (16,000 sq. ft.) on the Cattle Market site will attract shoppers  into Malton, so that they will also use the town centre shops. However, everybody accepts that there is no room in Malton for both the Estate’s food hall and the proposed superstore on Wentworth Street. So the Estate are being asked to more than halve the selling area for food and to sell other products from their store. This will severely reduce the value of the project and could make it unviable.


What this really means is that the high value of the Cattle Market site would be transferred to Wentworth Street. This may seem a very clever way of raising money for the Council, but the Estate intends to invest £20 million pounds into the project in order to protect their town centre shops.  The council would be very foolish to turn that investment down.


The public are now being consulted on these proposals.



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