A controversial roadside services area has been approved at a greenfield site despite uncertainty over its benefits.
Hambleton District Council’s planning committee voted to allow BP, McDonald’s, Marks & Spencer and Costa Coffee build outlets and a 22-space lorry park on farm fields off the A19 at the York Road junction.
The meeting heard the scheme would have a significant environmental impact and that the authority had previously ruled out developing the site, but leading councillors’ views had changed after being told 106 full-time jobs would be created there.
However, several members expressed disappointment that they were being asked to consider a scheme without being given any indication of how many hours the businesses would operate.
Councillors Bryn Griffiths and Gareth Dadd also asked for clarity on the applicants’ claims that 106 full-time jobs would be created with the development, leading officers to admit they had not questioned the applicant’s claims of the scheme’s benefits.
Cllr Dadd said following a career in retail, he believed the claim that 106 jobs would be created a petrol station, convenience shop, fast food restaurant and coffee shop could be perceived as “outlandish”.
Cllr Griffiths said: “The whole argument here is that it is providing substantial employment opportunity to mitigate the adverse effects.”
‘Don’t understand M&S food’
Officers replied that they had been told McDonald’s alone would be employing 35 full-time staff, but the meeting heard the figure called into question.
A number of Conservative councillors then said it did not matter how many or what type of jobs the development would see created.
The committee’s chairman, Councillor Peter Bardon, emphasised he did not believe Thirsk said one benefit of the service area would be reduce the number of car journeys between Thirsk and McDonald’s restaurants in Leeming Bar and Ripon.
“I am aware of at least two cars which travel every day to Ripon and back for their daily lunch and certainly one family go to Leeming Bar every week for their weekly McDonalds.
“And I don’t even mention those who go to Ripon and Northallerton just for the Marks & Spencers Food Hall.
“I don’t understand Marks & Spencers Food Hall I just buy my clothes from them.”