PLANS for the redevelopment of Hatherleigh Market are set to go ahead after Kingswood Homes’ proposals to build 102 homes and a new market building were given the go-ahead by borough councillors.
Members of West Devon Borough Council’s development control and licensing committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the application, ending years of deadlock over the future of the site.
The approval will mean the demolition of the existing market buildings when livestock auctions ceased after many years in February last year.
It also spells the end of hopes by traders and others to buy back the buildings for the community and reinstate livestock markets.
Campaigner Charles Dumpleton, founder member of the Hatherleigh Community Market Community Interest Company, said afterwards that he was ‘very upset’ at the decision.
Councillors gave approval despite hearing that there would be no affordable housing in the scheme.
The developer has, however, said that it is in negotiation with a housing association to provide a quarter of the housing on a shared ownership, part-rent part-buy basis.
Andrea Fortune, representing Kingswood Homes, told councillors there would be no delay in pressing ahead with the construction.
‘We are wholly committed to getting on site this side of Christmas,’ she said. ‘We are not a large scale builder, we need this development for our cash flow. We absolute need to get on site as soon as possible and deliver this.’
Mr Dumpleton, who ran the Tuesday pannier market in the existing buildings until recently, spoke out against the development at the meeting.
He told councillors: ‘The market being proposed by the developers is less than a quarter of the size of the existing market and will hold 20 stalls which even if they were bigger would still be less than half the number required.’
He said the parking being proposed, which the developer had increased from its original application to 200 spaces, was still inadequate. ‘We had 560 cars parked on a wet Tuesday moring last week.’
However, the application was supported by borough councillors James McInnes and Patrick Kimber as well as Hatherleigh Town Council as the best way to ensure the town kept some sort of market long-term.
Cllr Kimber also said the housing would enable local people to stay in the town.
‘I support the application because it allows families from Hatherleigh to go on living in Hatherleigh and it supports the continuation of the pannier markets on Tuesdays.
‘I’m pleased that the application has an integrated space for the fur and feather auctions. The new development also has the potential to reduce the running costs of the market and this should help secure its long-term future.’
Hatherleigh mayor Clare Tyson, speaking on behalf of the town council, said opinion was genuinely divided about Kingswood Homes’ plans.
‘Community consensus doesn’t exist,’ she said. ‘Some want the return of the livestock market. Some want homes near their families.’
Broadly speaking, though, she said the town council supported the application, although ‘the reduction in the number of car parking spaces is regrettable’.
She added that the developer had shown willingness to make some consessions to the community. The revised plans include 21 one-bedroom bungalows after residents said they wanted them.
Councillors raised concerns about the lack of affordable housing. There were told by council officers though that the deal was the best that could be expected given the costs involved with the ‘challenging brownfield site’. This includes demolishing the existing buildings, thought to contain asbestos.
Ms Fortune, from Kingswood Homes, said: ‘The buildings are now in a poor condition and have been referred to as an eyesore in a number of letters received by the council.’ The developer has put the cost of the new market building at £1-million.