A controversial report has called for a new supermarket in Knaresborough town centre - saying it is essential to the town’s future.
The retail report, put before Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) this week, says just 14 per cent of Knaresborough’s money is spent in the town.
Nearly 90 per cent of residents, it said, travel as far away as Boroughbridge and Harrogate every week to do their food shopping.
And if Knaresborough is to compete, it added, an “anchor” shop or a new large foodstore is critical to the town’s future.
“We have identified a particular need for the provision of a new foodstore in Knaresborough,” the Harrogate Retail Study 2014 concluded.
“A foodstore within the town centre could play a key role in reinforcing its vitality and viability, as well as promoting more sustainable shopping patterns.”
The report, commissioned by HBC as part of its local plan, looked at town centres across the district, analysing strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development.
It has suggested two sites - the Fisher Street car park or the former cattle market site to the north of the high street - to be considered for a new large foodstore.
“We are aware the council has explored the option to develop a foodstore on the cattle market site in the past and identified a number of constraints,” it said.
“We recommend that opportunities be sought for the provision of a medium-size foodstore on the site.”
Coun Michael Harrison, cabinet member for planning, said it was too easy for people travelling to supermarkets to use them for all their shopping needs.
“I appreciate that if you’re a small retailer you might feel threatened by a large store,” he said. “That shouldn’t be underestimated. “But if that means people are going elsewhere, everyone is losing out. It’s about recognising that investment in retail brings people in to spend money.”
Local businessman Andy Grinter, of Renaissance Knaresborough, said a supermarket might be an idea to consider.
“Essentially, it’s all about parking,” he said. “As much as it seems against purpose to bring in another supermarket, it might not be.
“Having the car park that might come with a supermarket will be the spur to ameliorate the inevitable concerns that will be raised from local businesses.
“There’s a knee-jerk reaction to go against it. However, the attraction of a car park and a new shop could bring people into town.
“These figures - of 14 per cent - mean we have to do something.”
Knaresborough Town Council is currently carrying out a ‘viability and vitality’ survey about the future of the town and residents are urged to have their say.
Printed copies have been placed in the library and in town centre shops, and are also available from Knaresborough House.