A Skipton businessman has criticised the town’s planned Wyvern Park retail and industrial development as nothing more than a shield for a Sainsbury’s superstore.

Brian Verity, managing director of Skipton Properties, said another supermarket would suck the life out of the town centre and called on businesses and residents to object.

“Skipton’s existing supermarkets already serve the town well and are well placed to encourage people to visit other town-centre shops,” he said.

“In contrast, a new out-of- town Sainsbury’s would suck life away and cause untold damage to our town.

“As a resident, I want Skipton to have a thriving High Street where independent traders can flourish, not a ghost town full of charity shops surrounded by out-of-town superstores.”

The scheme, which is being considered by Craven District Council, is planned for land between Waltonwrays Cemetery and Sandylands Sports Centre.

Submitted by Henry Boot Developments, the scheme would include business and distribution units, offices, a supermarket, petrol station, pub and hotel.

Mr Verity, who lives in Skipton, further criticised the “hybrid” form of the application, saying the supermarket and part of the industrial buildings were full applications but the other parts were in outline.

“I can’t see this application as anything more than a Trojan Horse to get a Sainsbury’s superstore that is neither needed nor wanted,” he said.

“It’s time for local businesses and residents to stand up and be counted.”

But a spokesman for Henry Boot said its retail assessment demonstrated there was a market for a new food store, with around 30 per cent of shoppers going to Keighley, Ilkley and Colne and the town was crying out for industrial units.

“Wyvern Park will provide modern commercial space that existing Skipton businesses need to grow. It will also attract new businesses to relocate to the town.”

He said the development would be very expensive and significant investment, to pay for the infrastructure, was needed that only a food store could generate.

“We are confident Wyvern Business Park will be fully built. There is a long-identified need for more business space.”

Skipton-based RN Wooler has already agreed to speculatively build eight smaller business units and detailed discussions are ongoing with a major local employer for a new headquarters and distribution centre.

“An outline planning consent for the remainder of the site gives us the opportunity to respond to specific needs and provide the purpose-built units that businesses often require.

“We believe this development is vital for the future economic well-being of Skipton.”

He said without additional commercial space, Skipton ran the risk of losing out to other nearby towns.

“If the planning application is approved, once complete Wyvern Park will deliver around 1,100 new local jobs, bringing £27.5 million per year to the local economy.”