A SERVICE station that will harm the environment has been backed again despite a high-end retailer pulling out of the scheme.

The development, off the A19 at the York Road junction, was passed after it was highlighted it would create 106 jobs and attract a Marks & Spencers outlet to Thirsk.

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Hambleton District Council’s planning committee approved revised plans to build a petrol station, drive-through outlets, a grocery store and a lorry park on the farm fields by the A19 after being told it would amount to an investment of £7m into Thirsk.

The decision came just two days after the authority declared a climate

emergency, saying it would work to reduce emissions and support new low-carbon infrastructure in its area.

The council's leader, Mark Robson, said with four extra electric vehicle charging spaces and 32 rather than 22 lorry parking spaces at the site, as well as showers for lorry drivers, the scheme represented "an improvement over what was already acceptable".

In January, amid claims creating another petrol station and other drive-through outlets in the area was unnecessary, the same planning committee voted to allow a scheme they were told would see BP, McDonald’s, Marks & Spencer and Costa Coffee outlets built across farmland.

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 changed after being told 106 full-time jobs would be created there.

At the time, Councillor Bryn Griffiths questioned the amount of public benefit the scheme would bring, adding: “The whole argument here is that it is providing substantial employment opportunity to mitigate the adverse effects.”

Nevertheless, at the same meeting, the committee's chairman emphasised how Marks & Spencer's presence in town would save locals from driving to Northallerton or Ripon.

When the committee considered the revised proposals, members were told Marks & Spencer had pulled out of the scheme, which was now being led by the Motor Fuel Group, rather than BP.

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It also emerged that while the previous plan had claimed it would generate 106 jobs, papers submitted with the latest proposal stated it would "directly support over 75 local jobs", without stating how many of them would be at the site and how many of those would be full-time roles.

They were told the proposed grocery store would be significantly larger - 438 square metres as opposed to 310 square metres - and that it would now by occupied by Budgens and Greggs.

Thirsk councillor Dave Elders said: "There are a number of Thirsk and Sowerby residents who will be disappointed by the change of the provision of the grocery store.

"They were looking forward to an M&S Food in Thirsk and Sowerby, but that's not to be.

"There is one in Northallerton."


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