HARROGATE councillors have derailed plans set to turn a Harrogate pub into a Sainsbury’s store, voting against the contentious proposal.
The plans, submitted by owners Marston’s, were for an extension to the Mile Post pub on Leeds Road, which would prepare the building for use as as a Sainsbury’s local convenience store.
A report put before Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday afternoon recommended the extension be approved and planning officers stressed that councillors should debate the extension only.
The fact it would become a Sainsbury’s, councillors were told, could not be taken into consideration, as a change of use from the existing pub to a convenience store did not require planning permission.
However councillors defied the instruction voting strongly against the proposal, because the store was set to become a Sainsbury’s.
Coun Anne Jones said: “This is an under-the-wire application and I am very sorry but I cannot support the officers’ recommendations. I just feel that we are being held to ransom over policy here.”
While it was reiterated several times that the change of use did not need planning permission and should therefore not be part of any consideration to reject the proposal, several councillors expressed their concern that the two were inextricably linked.
Coun Reg Marsh said: “I am finding it very difficult to divorce one from the other here.”
He added that his concerns about the added volume of traffic in the area were directly linked to the intended usage of the building as a convenience story and the necessity for a high volume of delivery lorries on a regular basis.
Several other councillors echoed the concerns over traffic and criticised representatives of Marston’s for being unable to provide answers to their questions on the subject.
Coun Andrew Goss said: “We have not had enough information regarding the number of lorries delivering to the site.
“I feel there are already high volumes of traffic in the area as many have said and the area is already very congested at the moment.
“Additionally there is no parking provision for the staff that are going to be working on that site.”
But Coun Richard Grange said: “From a planning point of view the officers have got it right, there are traffic problems all around Harrogate. “Sadly, it’s a fact of life that the car rules this town.”
However, he added that he believed that Marston’s should look again at the possibility of running a pub on the site saying that he thought it could be a “gold mine in the right hands”.
The decision which saw councillors reject the proposal 11-3 means that the proposal will now be referred to the district development sub-committee.