A MAJOR supermarket chain could be on its way to Filey sooner than most people expected after plans by a local developer were controversially approved by Scarborough councillors.

Two different planning applications were submitted by Ledden Thompson Developments for the site of the Station Garage – one for a mixed retail and residential scheme and the other for a block of luxury apartments.

The site at the top of Station Avenue is directly opposite Somerfield and across the road from a larger site which has already been earmarked for a supermarket and is also owned by Somerfield. Both Filey Town Council and planning officers had opposed plans for the retail and residential scheme, favouring instead the apartment block.

But, in a surprise move, a majority of nine to five members of the council's planning and development committee also approved the retail scheme.

In addition, they agreed not to impose a condition which prevented the amalgamation of the proposed three retail units into two or one, leaving the developers free to create one large retail space.

Opponents of the scheme argued that creating new shops outside the town centre would draw people away from shopping there and could cause traffic problems.

Gary Ledden, whose company is behind a number of new housing and retail developments in Scarborough, said he hoped to create a new supermarket that would have about four times the floor space of the existing Somerfield store – because Filey needed it. "I think Filey is crying out for more retail shopping areas," he said. "A recent study by the borough council said people were going to Scarborough or Bridlington to do their shopping, and given the current commercial position of retailing, the other proposed supermarket is probably less likely to be built now than ever before.

"This is buildable and deliverable within a 12-month period of time. It will give people more choice and better value, because at the moment Filey doesn't have any competition."

Mr Ledden said he took encouragement from the support of Filey ward councillors Colin Haddington, who is a member of the planning and development committee, and Cllr Mike Cockerill, who is not. However, Cllr David Murton, who chairs Filey Town Council's planning committee, said the result was a "great disappointment" and he would be questioning the two ward councillors.

Filey's other ward councillor Sam Cross, who is also a member of the planning committee and a Filey town councillor, argued against the retail proposal, saying the town council and planning officers had "got it right" and there was no need for another supermarket when there were already plans on the table.

But Cllr Haddington said the residents of Filey needed another supermarket now, and did not believe it would stop people shopping in the town centre.

Cllr Cockerill said: "I'd love to see a supermarket built on Station Avenue car park – again to improve the choice for residents and to keep more money in Filey. But how long do we have to wait?"

Mr Ledden said demolition work would not start before the existing business at Station Garage got the go-ahead to relocate.

The new build would include a ground floor retail space with 10 flats arranged over two floors above, with car parking for the flats off Granville Road.