This note should be read inconjunction with my letter of 24th April to Ryedale’s Planning Office (see below).The RTP report is a “Revised draft report” entitled “Ryedale Retail Capacity Study Update” dated September 2008. Its purpose is to update the study carried out by RTP in 2006. All references below to the “RTP” report concern the 2008 document, unless the context otherwise admits.

Its date follows the “public consultation” undertaken by WSP at the end of August 2008, and preceeds and is intended to inform the “Strategy for Malton Town Centre” prepared by WSP and Atisreal in January 2009.

The WSP document follows a previous version which was produced to the Council in March 2008. That document had no tables, data or calculations. Their 2009 Report also contains little in the way of tables, data and calculation, other than some data on car parks and public consultation (for comments on these, see the letter of 24th April).

The WSP document contains no figures, calculations or data in regard to Retail Capacity. So they have to rely upon data, tables and calculations produced by others.

The RTP report is produced at Appendix D of the WSP Report, never having been seen by Council members before, even though it is dated September 2008. In the absence of contrary data tables and calculations produced by WSP, one has to assume that RTP are the acknowledged experts on retail capacity, and not WSP. Indeed the WSP report relies on RTP as a source document, and it is therefore surprising that there are a number of significant differences in the way WSP interpret RTP data.


The key issue is to determine the future requirement, in terms of floor space, for new retail development and then to plan for it. Clearly if we plan for too much, many stores will fail and the town centre shops will degenerate. There are also dangers in planning for too little.

These figures should also reflect projections of population growth and decline, and also future economic conditions and trends – downwards as well as upwards. Retail forecasts, like weather forecasts can change over time; the longer range they are, the less accurate, and so should be kept continually under review (as Ryedale has done).

There are also risks in projecting trends, as these can change over time. RTP have taken this into account by doing two calculations, one based on things staying as they are (static retention) and the other based on an assumption of an increased retention of trade within Ryedale.



On this basis they estimated in 2006 that, for the period 2005 -15, if things stayed as they were, there would be a need of additional capacity for  sales of convenience products  of between 213 sq.m and 390 sq.m, and that on the basis  of the  increased retention scenario, the additional capacity required would be between 1,440 sq. m and 2,639 sq.m net (28, )  (Table 2.2 on Page 11) – all figures in regard to net floor area.

They have since revised these figures downwards , so that the requirement for new net retail capacity for convenience products for the years 2008-2021 is now set at  between 1,046 and 2,698 sq.m.(net),  (Page 27). The required capacity for the period 2008-2026 is set at between 1,546 and 3,375 sq.m. (net).

In considering this range of figures and whether or not it is realistic for the district to aspire to the upper growth level, regard needs to be had to the fact that, in the area around Malton (numbered 6 by RTP), retention of convenience trade is at 80%, while over the “overall catchment area” as a whole, the retention is 63%.  One has to bear in mind that many parts of the district are closer to Monks Cross, Clifton Moor and Morrisons at Scarborough and other market towns, than they are to Malton.

WSP acknowledge and confirm RTP’s figures in regard to the retailing of convenience food (page 22). However, they say:

“The implication of these figures is that there is not enough new retail capacity in the short term to support a supermarket on Wentworth Street Car Park, but after 2013 there is a sufficient capacity for a store of 29,000 sq.ft.(net). However, if an existing food store were to close in the meantime, this would release some retail capacity to bring forward any supermarket proposals on Wentworth Street in advance of this.”

However, if one looks at RTP Table 5.2(Page 27), it should be noted that the 29,000 sq. ft. (2,698sq.m) figure:

  • Assumes the higher rate of retention; and
  •  Is for the period 2008 – 2021.

In other words, WSP assume that the higher retention will be achieved and are happy to allow this spare capacity to be used up immediately after 2013, instead of progressively over the following 7 years.  Clearly the result  could put the existing shops at risk, whether or not the increased retention aspiration is achieved.


It is generally accepted that there is a shortage of clothes and shoe shops, and that this and other deficiencies of the town centre in regard to comparison goods is due to the restricted sizes of the shops in the Town Centre Conservation Area. It is also accepted in both WSP and RTP that this deficiency could be remedied if some larger units were to be built, which would attract some more of the regional and national names.

WSP (Page 22), quoting RTP say:

“In terms of non-food comparison retailing, the figure has jumped from approx. 75,350sq.ft. net in 2015 to approx. 231,467 sq.ft. net by 2026. This is a significant increase, but care needs to be taken with this figure due to the aggregation of certain assumptions. However, it is clear that there is a large quantative need of non-food retailing, particularly in the fashion sector.”

It follows that both WSP and RTP are more concerned about Malton’s deficiencies in regard to comparison goods outlets than they are in regard to convenience food shops. However, the impression I get, from what I hear at the Council, is that, in the current economic climate, there is “no market for new comparison goods shops, but only in retail”, and that is why the Council is so keen on promoting WSCP for a new superstore.


There is a significant difference in the assessments of RTP and WSP on this, although WSP have produced no new source of evidence to show why they think RTP are wrong.

Compare these  statements:


Overall, we consider Malton to be a healthy town centre, with no acute indicators of

decline. Notwithstanding the issue of traffic congestion described above, Malton is a

generally attractive, busy market town, which benefits from a varied convenience and

comparison sector, good representation from financial service providers, a cinema,

regular markets, a falling vacancy rate, low (good) yields, and reasonable

demand/interest from retail and service operators. Certainly, we do not consider that

the vitality and viability of Malton has diminished since our previous healthcheck of the

town centre, undertaken in 2006.”(RTP Para.4.36: page 24)


“Despite being the dominant comparison retail centre in Ryedale, Malton struggles to

retain an acceptable level of comparison goods expenditure with the town centre

retaining only 17% of the overall comparison sector expenditure of the residents of the

OCA (more detail is provided on page 16). The surrounding retail centres attract

considerable convenience expenditure from within the Ryedale catchment area, causing

substantial leakage from Malton town centre. The main outflow of convenience

expenditure to named stores include the Morrisons store at Scarborough (9% of the total

expenditure from the OCA / £6.8 million), Asda at Monks Cross in York (7% / £5 million

of leakage), Tesco Extra at Clifton Moor retail park in York (5% / £3.9m) and Sainsburys

at Monks cross (3% / 2.5m of leakage). In total £90m of retail spending by Ryedale

residents is ‘lost’ to other centres outside of Ryedale annually.” (WSP Page 13)




“Notwithstanding this, the movement in Malton’s own retail yields over the last seven

years can still be assessed, and it is notable that there have been steady

improvements in this regard, with yields particularly improving between July 2007 and

January 2008, falling from 7.0 per cent to 6.25 per cent. Malton’s improving retail

yields reflects rising investor confidence in the centre, which could potentially be a

result of emerging local proposals for additional high quality retail development in

Malton, for example on the Cattlemarket site.” (RTP 4.27 page 23 – please note that in this context, “ Yield is a measure of the confidence of investors in the long term profitability of the town centre for retail and other commercial developments; the lower the yield the greater the level of investment confidence.”)




“Although Malton’s retail provision and importance is greater than any comparable area

within the Ryedale district, it is essential to take a wider view. The town’s position in the

MHE index (the shopping index created by Management Horizons, which reviews the

top 1,672 retail centres in the UK based on a weighted count of non-food retailers

against other centres within the UK) shows a worrying decline for Malton in the retail

hierarchy index between 2000 and 2008 of 215 places, from 880 to 1095.” (WSP Page 14)




“Caution, therefore, needs to be exercised in considering slippage in the retail rankings of low-ranked centres (particularly local centres) between 2003/04, 2006 and 2008, which might in part be due to the greater number of centres included in the different Indexes, rather than due to a particular deterioration of the centres’ retail offer.


4.7 It is also worth emphasising that both the MHE and the Javelin indexes are based on

the presence of national multiple outlets, with no credit given for the presence of

independent operators. Thus, if comparison multiple retailers have recently moved

into centres which previously ranked slightly below Malton (for instance), then those

centres will have improved their positions in the Index, at the expense of Malton where

few comparison multiples have opened stores in the last couple of years. In short,

analysis of a centre’s movement in the national retail rankings can be a rather blunt

tool, and so other indicators – which consider the presence and quality of independent

operators – are also of utility in assessing the health of small and medium-sized

centres.” (RTP paras 4.6 and 4.7 – Page 20).




“The lack of a balanced supermarket offer


Malton and Norton are currently home to three supermarkets, including Morrisons

(37,700 sq ft, gross), Netto (9,709 sq ft, gross) and Jacksons (9,800 sq ft, gross), the

latter selling a limited range of Sainsbury’s products. However, the town lacks a mid to

high quality supermarket offer such as Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food, Waitrose or

Sainsburys. The need for a mid to high quality supermarket is essential to balance the

current range of supermarket offer, as well as encouraging the more affluent shopper

into Malton. We believe that the introduction of a mid to high quality supermarket tenant

would, in addition to other physical improvements and strengthening of the retail offer,

help to retain expenditure within the OCA and attract new shoppers to Malton. The

additional footfall generated by a mid to high quality supermarket would support and

complement independent retailers through linked shopping trips. (WSP Page 14 )




“5.11 In terms of qualitative deficiencies, the four main centres in Ryedale (Malton, Norton,

Pickering and Kirkbymoorside) generally already have healthy convenience sectors.

Malton, for example, has a good range of convenience outlets and benefits from the

presence of three supermarkets (Morrisons, Netto and Jacksons). However,

convenience provision across the District, and particularly in Malton, is currently

focused more towards the low and discount-end of the market. Furthermore, town

centres and individual grocery stores located within Ryedale’s OCA retain, collectively,

only 62.7 per cent of the convenience expenditure of residents of the OCA, which is a

relatively low level of retention. We therefore consider that a valid policy aspiration

would be to seek to increase the convenience retention level. Given the socioeconomic

profile of the catchment area, there is scope to diversify the convenience

offer, through provision of a higher-order supermarket or foodstore.” (RTP: Page 27 – Note the words “or foodstore” which is absent from WSP, and the different emphasis).


It should, of course, be appreciated that Malton shops may now be suffering from the Recession. However, this will have an adverse impact on all shops everywhere.





This is where the RTP ans WSP Reports are clearly in conflict. Compare the following statements:




“5.20 If the market was to relocate, then the site would appear to offer excellent potential for

retail uses because of its close adjacency to the town centre core. The site is already

well-connected to the retail core (which can be accessed via The Shambles, or Spital

Street/Newgate), and would form a natural extension to the town centre. In particular,

we consider that the site would be an ideal location for a development providing a

small number of unit shops to attract the type of comparison sector outlets that are

presently missing from Malton’s offer. Alternatively, the non-food units could form part

of a mixed-use development, for instance including a foodstore, and/or residential


5.21 In summary, we consider that the well-located Cattlemarket Site is a suitable, viable and imminently available site, of a sufficient size to accommodate a good-quality retailed development. Indeed, a planning application seeking development of convenience and comparison retail floorspace on the site (through provision of eight new-build retail units) is currently under consideration by the Council.”(Page 29)


WSP on the CATTLEMARKET site recommends “Option B” which is as follows:


A mix of shops, cafés and housing with a retail store (7,500 – 12,000 sq ft gross) but

without the supermarket element of option A. This size of store would suit a basket style

food store, such as M&S Simply Food.


Parking would be provided in a sensitively designed decked car park. Housing would be

comprised of two-storey maisonettes and flats on the floors above shops, cafés and

restaurants facing the square with a new residential area to the south of the new public



Retail units including shops, cafés, restaurants and a supermarket would be positioned

around the square and along Newgate and Spital Field Court.


This option would involve the relocation of the Livestock Market to a site within Malton.”




“Overall, we consider that the site may offer some potential for retail uses, particularly

for convenience retail rather than ‘high street’ comparison stores, which would be more

beneficially located in closer proximity to the existing retail core. However, the site is

currently unavailable, being in active use as a public car park. Although the Council is

currently considering the potential of the car park for convenience retail development,

through preparation and consultation on the Malton Town Centre Strategy, these

proposals are still in their early stages. Furthermore, whilst the Wentworth Street car

park is generally underused (often being used to only 25 per cent of its capacity),

development of the car park would nevertheless reduce the number of spaces

available in the wider town centre area. This potential implication would therefore have

to be taken into account in considering the merits of any proposals for the site.

Development of the site for retail uses should also be subject to implementation of a

number of junction improvements in the town centre.


5.29 As such, although the site may be suitable for retail development in the longer-term, we do not consider that it represents a short-term development opportunity” (Page 30)



Taking these results into account, we still believe Option C to be the best option to

provide a once in a generation opportunity within Malton to improve the retail offer within the town. However to reflect the latest consultation results, there is now the potential for a two-phased approach. Phase 1 would involve developing the supermarket on its own,

retaining 80% of the existing car parking provision. The use of the car park with the

supermarket operation would then be closely monitored. Phase 2 would involve the

residential element, though this would only be implemented if it could be demonstrated

that there was still enough capacity to absorb the further loss of spaces. Of course 2/3

of the current parking levels would be retained under phase 2.(Page 39).


It would seem that both consultants have approached this matter from different angles. WSP seem to want to use figures and data provided by RTP, so as to justify conclusions which are at variance from those of RTP.

It is fairly obvious from the figures produced by RTP that there is not enough retail capacity in the short term to support a new supermarket on WWSCP, and a new supermarket there cannot be built in the short term without inflicting some damage on the existing town centre.

As regards the medium and longer term, the current financial catastrophe shows just how unreliable long range forecasts can be.

As regards the present, it would be unwise to allow any major retail planning application until all the relevant issues have been resolved through the LDF. One has to bear in mind that every application granted will reduce the capacity for new retail floorspace which might be available for consideration under the LDF. I believe government guidelines do allow for permission to be refused on the grounds of prematurity at this stage in the LDF


11th May 2009


From Paul Andrews, Councillor, Malton Ward



2 The Beeches, Great Habton

York YO17 6RS

Telephone 01653-669023

24th April 2009



Many thanks to you and Jill for seeing  David and me on Tuesday 21st April. I do think this was a useful meeting.

You asked me to write you, briefly identifying my concerns and suggesting how the P&R recommendation might be amended.

First, I would stress that the comments set out below should not be taken as personal criticism of any kind. I know the LDF is a very difficult project, and the Council will never please everybody. All you can do is use your best endeavours to ensure that the Council acts fairly.

Secondly, I want to make it clear that, as far as retailing is concerned, I want to see the right solution for Malton, and not the solution which provides the best financial return for Ryedale. If this is to be achieved, it is critical that all the current competing proposals (and any future ones) be considered together through the LDF process (ie not on an ad hoc basis), on a level playing field, against criteria which relate directly to what is best for the viability and vitality of the existing town centres of Malton and Norton. I do not want to see any particular proposal – whether publicly or privately promoted – being given any undue advantage (eg by the prior adoption of a consultants’ report which only considers a single option).

I firmly believe this is the correct approach, and that if it is evident that the Council is primarily concerned with the financial return it may obtain from the sale of WWSCP, there is a very good chance that, once again, the Council’s LDF will be found to be unsound. I don’t believe a government inspector will approve a finance led LDF.

In this respect, leading members may already have prejudiced the Council’s case for the LDF by making it clear publicly that one of the main purposes for selling WWSCP for a superstore would be the realisation by the Council of the capital value of an asset.

The report to P&R raises the following concerns:

  1. The chairman was determined to limit the discussion and used his power to cut me short. The result was that the debate on the mass of documents presented to members in the written report and the accompanying CD was limited to just over 30 minutes.
  2. The Report came with a CD containing the revised WSP Report. This was at least 235 pages long and its appendices included an updated report on retail capacity to 2026 and a report from Jacobs on Highways matters. There is no way that all members could have downloaded and then read, understood and inwardly digested these documents before the meeting.
  3. In previous years, Retail Capacity study has been produced and looked at as a separate item, and members were asked to approve it before going onto the next stage. I believe this should have been done for both the updated retail capacity document and also the Jacobs Report. It was not.
  4. Some of the figures in the revised Retail Capacity study are questioned by WSP as follows: “care needs to be taken ............due to the aggregation of certain assumptions”( see Page 22 revised WSP). A government inspector may not be impressed with the idea of sustained  growth rates which are assumed to continue to rise at a time of economic recession and stagnation.
  5. Members’ attention was not drawn to the paragraph of the revised WSP report on Page 22 which contains the statement: “The implication of these figures is that there is not enough new retail capacity in the short term to support a supermarket on WWSCP............”
  6. The revised WSP report cites lack of use for car parking of WWSCP as a reason for building a superstore there, without considering the possible reasons for lack of use, including the Council’s extortionate fees. Your attention is drawn to the mass of evidence which is exhibited on my website (particularly under the News and Views Tab). This will be available to the inspector, and I leave you to form your own views in regard to the conclusions likely to be drawn from this.
  7. The summary of the Jacobs document contained in Annex E of your report provides a cost estimate of £10M for a new intersection between Broughton Road and the A64. The specification on which this is based is not known. It is not clear if this refers to a double bridge roundabout or the scheme put forward by Mouchel in 2004 and costed by Mouchel at £2.5M. Further it is unclear if the works costed  are such as would be required to accommodate the additional traffic likely to be generated by a 29,000 sq.ft new superstore at WWSCP or such as to accommodate the lesser additional traffic likely to be generated by any of the alternative competing proposals. This could be found to be misleading.
  8. Your report relies heavily on the August public consultation, without acknowledging that this was, in effect an exercise in promoting the Council’s preferred option to the exclusion of any other option, and therefore not a truly impartial consultation.  I think there is a serious danger that, while certain opinions may prevail in Ryedale’s Ivory Tower, those opinions can be tested to destruction at a public enquiry.  I think anybody who suggests at a public enquiry (examination in public) that 250 or so forms agreeing the Council’s proposals are statistically significant will be laughed out of court.
  9. There is also another concern which I have identified on the accompanying email.
  10. Although there is comment in the Revised WSP document on “Retail Capacity” figures, I could not find any study dealing with the impact as such of the Council’s proposals on the existing town centres, or any detailed comparison of the Council’s sites with other sites. If I’m wrong about this, perhaps you would refer me to the relevant pages.
  11. These are not the only concerns I have about the contents of the various reports. I am sure it would not be difficult for anybody challenging the Council at an LDF Examination in Public to find many more.

Many of the above matters could seriously prejudice the outcome of an Examination in Public of the LDF or public enquiry into any relevant planning application, and I believe that if matters are allowed to stand as they are, the Council will be challenged.

Indeed, there would seem to be so many weaknesses that it is almost as if the Council is inviting a declaration of unsoundness.

I now turn to the recommendations approved by the committee and the strategy behind them.

What I object to is the endorsement of the Revised WSP document in advance of the LDF. This means, in theory, that any application made before the LDF which is consistent with the WSP document will be approved, and any that is not, will be refused.

I understand this is not the intention. I believe the purpose is to make the WSP Report an interim document which will enable the Council to refuse applications which are inconsistent with it prior to the consideration of WWSCP during the LDF process. This is all very creditable, but the fact remains that, if the LDF is declared unsound again, the Council will still be able to rely on the WSP document and grant permission for the proposed superstore, using the WSP document as supplementary planning guidance.

As would appear from the above, in the present circumstances the risk of the new LDF being found to be unsound is already high – and that is so, even before the officers have formulated the first draft!

In the circumstances, I would ask you to consider suggesting full Council amend the P&R Recommendation on the following lines:

“The Council:

  • Approves the recommendations in the WSP Report only for the purpose of taking these forward for consideration and consultation through the LDF process;
  • Includes WWSCP (together with all other retail proposals) in the June consultation for redevelopment for food retail and parking through the LDF process;
  • Deals with all retail applications received before the LDF on the basis of prematurity if they would significantly prejudice any of the retail proposals being considered through the LDF. 
  • Fully investigate, through the LDF process, the potential for a comprehensive approach to the development of Malton Town Centre.” 

The amendments are underlined. Their purpose is to put the Council’s proposals on the same level playing field as any other proposals. This will not stop the Council from promoting the WSP Strategy through the LDF – if that is what they still want to do. 

I acknowledge your concerns in regard to using the prematurity argument, but the Regional Office advises me that the Council can use it. This advice was, of course, subject to all the usual qualifications. I would have thought that the prematurity argument becomes stronger as the Council proceeds towards and through the LDF process.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely,


Councillor Paul Andrews


G. Housden Esq.

Planning Department

Ryedale District Council











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