A BID to run Hatherleigh Market for the community has been launched as an alternative to a developer’s plans to demolish the existing buildings and build 123 houses on the site.

Not-for-profit Ruby Country Partnership has applied to have the existing market designated as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

This would buy time for the community to match an offer on the table from developer Kingswood Homes.

Charles Dumpleton, director of the Ruby Country Partnership, said: ’The way people have rallied round since we have taken over running the Tuesday market and the number of people who have approached us about keeping it going has made us think that we could look again at buying it for the community.

‘If you ask people in Hatherleigh whether they want another 123 houses here, the majority would say “no”. They would say that there’s quite a number of empty houses in the community already and the new houses wouldn’t end up being used for local people. The development won’t bring in employment. It won’t be good for the town in the way that a successful market would be.

‘I’m confident that I’ve got support for this. I put out a petition in the market and got 40 signatures from people who wanted to see it back as something that is going to bring in an income to the town and increase the use of the shops in the town as well.’

Kingswood Homes recently applied to West Devon Borough Council for full planning permission for 123 homes, a market square, a market pavilion and business units, a doctors’ surgery and a convenience store on the site.

The plan involves demolishing the existing market buildings, where Vicks Auctioneers ran livestock markets from the 1950s until February this year. Much of the housing is proposed for the car park, which currently provides parking for hundreds of cars on Tuesday market days.

Hatherleigh Town Council are against the Kingswood Homes scheme and are planning to send an objection letter to West Devon Borough Council.

‘The market is used in so many ways, for pleasure and business, and since we have restarted the poultry auctions and general auctions on Tuesdays we have people come back from as far away as St Austell again.

‘I think we could do better than what the developer is suggesting using the existing buildings for the actual market rather than it being knocked down.’

He has applied to WDBC for the Asset of Community Value designation will grant the community 12 months’ grace to try to raise the funds to buy the site from current owner, Greg Vick.

‘Yes, it is going to be challenging raising the money, but we should be able to do it in the time period,’ said Mr Dumpleton. ‘Of course, Greg Vick can sell to whoever he wants. If he wants to go with the developer no one can stop him, but if he’s prepared to go with the community then the community can pay him exactly the same money he’s being offered by the developer.’

Hatherleigh resident Neil Price, who has objected to the application, said: ‘We want evolution not revolution in Hatherleigh. Things always do change, but I feel this plan would destroy Hatherleigh, which has such a lovely community feel.

‘Let it evolve. Don’t let us have a revolution and destroy everything in the process. Anyone looking at the market at the moment would say “this needs modernising” but let’s not knock it down and build a lot of houses on it.’

Kingswood Homes’ proposal, reference 1794/18/FUL, can be viewed under planning applications on WDBC’s website.

It is likely to be discussed at a forthcoming Development Control and Licensing Committee meeting.