Objectors to a planned superstore on the outskirts of Skipton have welcomed a unanimous decision to turn it down.
Craven planners agreed that allowing the Sainsbury’s superstore and industrial park would mean “selling the soul” of Skipton and would destroy the very uniqueness that made it the best place in the UK to live.
Malcolm Weaving, owner of the town’s Rendezvous Hotel and spokesman for Save Skipton, said he was “over the moon” at the decision of Craven District Council.
Mr Weaving, who believed an appeal by developers Henry Boot would fail because of the level of opposition, said: “It is up to all of us to protect the High Street and keep it for what it is - the best place in the country to live.”
Monday’s packed planning meeting heard independent retail expert, Martin Tonks, advise against supporting the Wyvern Park scheme because of its significant adverse impact on the High Street. resulting in the closure of shops, the loss of vitality and the likely increase in charity shops.
It also heard from Ben Ward, regional manager of developers Henry Boot, who said the company was committed to the development, that it owned the site, had carried out extensive consultation and had sought a deferment after learning of the recommendation in an effort to answer concerns.
The “hybrid” application included detailed plans for a Sainsbury’s superstore and petrol station, eight small business units and a just under 7,000 square metre warehouse and office unit for Healthcare House.
Outline plans included a hotel, pub, restaurant and takeaway, general industry and offices.
Mr Ward said he had been particularly surprised about criticism levelled at the design of the proposed buildings, which he considered to have architectural merit.
Councillors also heard from Tim Lockett, managing director of Skipton-based Healthcare House, about his hopes to move into a new warehouse and office building within the new development.
Mr Lockett said his company was one of the fastest growing in Yorkshire and was an exemplary employer but needed space to expand.
But councillors, while firmly supporting the need for industry, were united in their opposition to the superstore.
Skipton ward councillor Paul English (Lib Dem) said the scheme was one of the most important to come before the committee for years and, although he was usually a “pro-development councillor”, he could not support the application and moved the recommendation to turn it down.
“We want industry on the site, but unfortunately, the price does not stack up for me. I don’t want to sell the soul of Skipton for it,” he said.
“Just because this is the only show in town, it does not mean we have to take it. There will be other applications that will come forward, and until the right one comes along, I can’t support it.”
Fellow Skipton councillor, John Kerwin-Davey (Ind), compared the development to an entirely new town.
“By any description, this is a new town with free parking. We know that when Aldi opened, Tesco lost out and all this will do will transfer trade from the existing town to the new town. It would be the economics of the madhouse and the only winners would be the developers who would walk away and forget us.”