A LOCAL authority has revealed its plan for a large-scale expansion of a leading industrial estate across rural land is mostly to satisfy the demands of a single business.

Hambleton District Council has stated almost three-quarters of the 20.65ha of employment land it has proposed at Leeming Bar in its draft Local Plan would be used by one firm, which has not been named in the documents the authority has submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

The council announced earlier this summer it was in talks with the owners of 30 hectares of land to add to the industrial estate, despite vociferous local opposition to the move amid claims the expansion would overwhelm the village, ruining the area’s character and creating unacceptable levels of traffic. In June, the authority’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said the industrial estate’s expansion was “a key priority” in its ambition to boost the district’s economy.

The authority has sought to further justify its scheme in its latest responses to the inspectorate over proposals in its Local Plan, for which there will be several weeks of public hearings, from next week.

When asked to justify why the council was planning to set aside extra employment land on top of the proposed 20ha extension to the industrial estate, the authority said it was “aware of local demand for land in the area”. It added: “An established Leeming Bar business needs further land to enable its development and has expressed an interest in the new site at Leeming Bar”, adding that the land requirement from the business had increased to about 15ha.

The council said it was also aware of interest in expanding the estate from other businesses. When asked by the planning inspector if the scale of employment development proposed was appropriate for the scale and character of Leeming Bar, the authority response included that “...Leeming Bar has been a place of industry for many years as can be seen on the Wikipedia page.”

However, the Wikipedia page’s only reference to industry in the village other than the industrial estate is that John H Gill & Son, a cast iron milepost manufacturer, was established there in 1937.

A spokesman for Leeming Bar Action Group said the council’s responses to the inspectorate had shown the expansion was designed to increase storage and warehousing, which the group claimed would create a few extra jobs, which would be modestly paid.

He said: “What is now coming through is that there is one business which wants to expand and the industrial development in Leeming Bar seems geared around their wishes rather than the needs of the county

“It seems that Hambleton council are prepared to do whatever it takes to dress up the Local Plan as good for the county, but if the Leeming Bar Industrial Estate expansion goes ahead, actually the village and villagers wouldn’t be better off.”