Fears have been raised that Whitby Business Park could kill town centre trade if it is transformed into a retail park.
At its full monthly meeting on Tuesday, the town council debated the draft Whitby Business Park Area Action Plan.
Sitting across the National Park boundary, the area action plan is a partnership between the borough council and the North York Moors park authority relating to how the estate can be developed in future. It outlines areas for expansion and suggests opportunities for new businesses, both retail and industrial.
However, Mayor John Freeman raised concerns about the business park’s transformation into a retail centre. He said: “I have no problem with the idea of a business park adding more long-term stable jobs, but I have a tremendous concern with big retail units sucking out sales from the town centre.”
Simon Parkes said he believed the proposals were an attempt by the borough councils to exploit new laws relating to how much authorities would receive from businesses in their area.
He said: “The law is changing, which allows borough councils to claw back some business rates, so what we are noticing throughout the country is borough councils looking for big organisations to come in because they are trying to get more rates from them.”
The concern is that smaller businesses, “better suited” to Whitby, would be driven out in favour of larger ‘rate-generators’. However, coun Phil Trumper added that expansion does not necessarily assure success.
He said: “They are going to build these units, but what assurances can they give us that they are actually going to be filled?”
He instead proposed the council show their support for the Totally Locally scheme running in the town.
Concerns were raised that more traffic would increase the risk of accidents, with two schools located close to the business park. Other issues were also discussed and will be compiled as an official response from the town council.