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    Councillors move to break Co-op’s monopoly in Easingwold

    A long-awaited scheme to introduce a larger supermarket and the only fuel station for miles around to a market town has been given the go-ahead after councillors heard it would break the monopoly of a food retailer over residents.

    Hambleton District Council’s planning committee heard Jomast Development’s proposed mixed use development on a 20-acre greenfield site off York Road would mean residents not having to travel to Thirsk or towards York to refuel and have a choice over the food they bought.

    The meeting was told while the Co-op owned two stores in Easingwold its goods were also sold in a Costcutter outlet on Long Street, the town’s only other food store.

    The meeting heard while the proposed site was outside allocated development areas in the council’s Local Plan, there was “a pressing need” for assisted living accommodation had been identified in the Easingwold area and that would be included in 45 flats and 51 bungalows for “senior living”.

    The development, which Jomast says will take more than four years to complete, is set to also feature 70 family homes, a three-storey 60-bedroom care home, green walking routes, public open space and play areas.

    An agent for the developer told the meeting 93 per cent of residents who responded to a survey had supported the plans for a 1,917 sqm food store with some 116 parking bays and the only fuel station between Thirsk and Shipton, north of York, as well as NHS medical facilities.

    He said: “Easingwold is a fantastic place to live and work but the absence of key services does have a negative impact on the local community.

    “It is a once in a generation opportunity to increase Easingwold’s sustainability credentials and liveability.”

    Councillors enthused about the proposals to boost accommodation options for older people in the town, with the meeting hearing some 53 per cent of the town’s residents were aged over 50 and 24 per cent over 70 years of age.

    Ward member Councillor Nigel Knapton said while the bungalows and care home would be particularly welcome given the town’s significant ageing population, it was “madness” that residents had to drive miles to refuel.

    He added: “If you don’t want Co-op goods you would be very disappointed in Easingwold. There’s no competition and this means most people shop outside the town.

    “This is going to deliver so many positive benefits for the people of Easingwold, the fact that this is an unallocated site just vanishes into the distance.”

    Another ward member Councillor Malcolm Taylor added as many older residents did not drive they could not get to supermarkets at Boroughbridge, York or Thirsk “so they are effectively held to ransom by the monopoly that is currently operated by the convenience stores and the pricing mechanisms that are in place there”.

    He said: “In contrast to a lot of market towns we are in quite a perverse position in that we have banking facilities but nowhere to spend the money.”

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