Councillors are being advised to back the unauthorised redevelopment of a filling station despite fears it could undermine a village's shop and post office.

North Yorkshire Council planners have recommended its Richmond constituency planning committee approves Penny Petroleum’s retrospective planning application for a change of use at the former Coates garage in Scorton when it meets on Thursday (July 11).

The guidance to councillors follows the firm carrying out forecourt changes, installing diesel tanks and launching a Londis store, just 400m away and across the village green near the shop, despite not having gained planning consent.

Planning papers state the proposed changes would provide a larger retail space and a wider range of products, across a 175sq m area.

The application sets out while the garage employed four full-time staff, the  change of use would see seven full-time equivalent jobs and that customer parking would be increased, a claim which residents have disputed.

The application states: “In our opinion, the proposed works to increase the size of the retail offering at Scorton Petrol Filling Station are a good use of currently unused space for the benefit of the customers of the filling station and local residents.”

Three residents have written to the authority in support of the venture, with one saying the Londis store had negated the need to drive to the nearest supermarkets in Catterick or Colburn.

Another resident wrote: “The village needs more choice, with all the new developments being built/in the pipeline we need to support all local business not one shop should have the monopoly.”

However, the council has received a 243-signature petition and 53 letters of objection, with some highlighting how Scorton had seen a major decline in facilities and services, including the loss of pubs, a shop, a hospital and a grammar school.

One resident wrote: “To jeopardise the position of the village shop and most importantly the post office is surely detrimental to the village.”

Objecting to the scheme, an NHS GP described the post office and shop as “a lifeline for the village”, which had remained open throughout the pandemic “doing its best to provide for everyone”.

She added: “There are still plenty of residents who use it for banking and in a village with little and limited access to public transport and a higher than average population of over-75s, it is crucial we do not lose the service the post office provides.”

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Scorton Parish Council said the village store was “at the heart of our community”, in “a caring village with sheltered housing, care homes and
many elderly and vulnerable residents” who relied on the services developed there over decades.

In a report to the planning committee, council officers said although there were “key differences” between the village store and Penny Petroleum’s venture, such as banking services, it was “likely that similar products are or could be sold in both locations”.

Nevertheless, they added as the store was below the 500sq m policy threshold whereby retail impact assessments were required there were “no policy reasons to either refuse planning permission or to control the type of goods and services provided”.


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The report states: “Whilst potential competition between the two businesses is of concern to the existing business and local residents, competition in itself is not a material planning consideration that can be afforded a great deal of weight…”

Officers have recommended the development be subject to conditions that goods can only be unloaded from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays to protect residents’ amenity.

They have also stipulated the store’s opening hours should be restricted to 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 9pm on Sundays and bank holidays.