Council's Consultants say there is not enough room for a new supermarket in Malton - 15th August 2009


Councillor Keith Knaggs dismisses peoples’ rightful concerns about Ryedale’s plans for new supermarkets in Malton as scaremongering. Let us examine the facts.


In March 2008 The Council produced a study by WSP, with recommendations which included a new20,000 – 35,000 sq. ft. net sales area superstore on Wentworth Street Car Park. This report contained none of the tables, data or calculations one would normally expect to find in such documents to justify its conclusions.


The gut reaction of many people is that Malton town centre needs a new supermarket like a hole in the head, as it might have a catastrophic impact on the existing shops. One might expect that impact to be worse under the current economic climate. However, gut reactions are not good enough for planners. So we have to have regard to the scientific investigation which Ryedale has actually carried out through another consultant (RTP).


RTP are “shopping experts”. They use data and projections which are nationally accepted to project the additional retail capacity needed for the whole of Ryedale in future years. These projections, like weather forecasts, can be affected by unforeseeable events, and are more reliable in the short term than they are in the long term. They therefore have to be regularly updated, and this Ryedale has done.


In 2006, RTP forecast  that the new net retail sales capacity required for convenience goods (ie those normally sold in a supermarket) in the whole of Ryedale (not just Malton) by 2015 was 28,406 sq.ft. net


In September 2008, RTP updated their forecast, so that instead of almost 29,000 sq.ft. of new space being required before 2015, they now say this is required before 2021. In other words, they have revised their projections downwards – as one would expect with the recession.


These forecasts are on an optimistic basis, assuming new trade is attracted: there are much lower figures setting out the position if there is no change. So the truth is likely to be somewhere between the two. A copy of the 2008 RTP Report and my detailed comments on it are exhibited on my website under the “News and Views” tab.


In August 2008, the Council engaged WSP to consult on their plans for a new superstore on Wentworth Street Car Park. The Revised RTP Report is dated September 2008. It states that they do not consider Wentworth Street Car Park as “a short-term development opportunity”.


The September 2008 RTP report was not produced to Council members until a few days before the P&R Committee meeting of 2nd April 2009, and then only as “Appendix D” of the infamous CD which contains more than 235 pages.


I have raised RTP’S figures with councillor Knaggs at two meetings – particularly in the context of the applications of Lidl, Norton ( over 10,000 sq.ft. net sales area) and Morrisons, Malton (7,748 sq.ft. net. sales area). Members were told by the officers that retail capacity was only one of several material considerations that had to be taken into account and that “overprovision might be the way forward”.


Councillor Knaggs referring to the forecasts produced by RTP said: “What nonsense!” In his view, the market should decide future retail capacity.


Councillor Knaggs and the officers seem to be advocating a free for all. If superstores or supermarkets can get permission without full regard to retail capacity, there is bound to be an overprovision, and this will inevitably result in closures of some stores or shops. We all know that when this happens, it is the small shops which go out of business first – not the supermarkets.


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