AMBITIOUS plans to tear down Newton Abbot’s cattle market to make way for a mystery development have moved a step closer.
Livestock markets have been a part of the town’s life blood since the 13th century but all that could vanish if the current site next to the bus station – established in 1938 – is cleared.
Teignbridge Council is remaining tight-lipped about what might be on the drawing board, but the site was allocated in the council’s 2013 Local Plan for 11,000 sq m of retail floor space, 120 homes, leisure and commercial space including a cinema and food and drink units as well as public spaces.
Hush-hush proposals to flatten the site will go before district councillors for debate within a few months.
Cllr Alistair Dewhirst warned: ‘The future of the cattle market is uncertain but it doesn’t look good for Newton Abbot.’
Rumours have been flying around since the closure idea was proposed some seven years ago.
Latest speculations suggest a hotel and cinema could be in the pipeline for the site – but nothing has been confirmed. Tom Butcher, the council’s senior estates surveyor, said in a letter to the National Farmers’ Union: ‘The cattle market site was highlighted as a development area in the Local Plan.
‘In order to realise the aims of the plan, to regenerate the town centre, Teignbridge Council are reviewing the future of the cattle market with a view to debating its closure this autumn.’
One disgruntled farmer, who uses the cattle market every week, said: ‘It’s a great shame and a lot of people will miss it.
‘The closest cattle market will be Exeter or Tavistock.’
The livestock market is curently operated under a commerical licence agreement between the council and estate and letting agents Sawdye & Harris along with Rendells Auctioneers.
If the plans are approved by members the council will cut its contracts with the two businesses and won’t offer alternative premises for them to operate out of.
Cllr Doug Hellier-Laing, Teignbridge Council’s executive member for economy, skills and tourism, said: ‘The cattle market site forms a key part of unlocking potential so further investment can be made in creating a quality place with improved retail, hospitality, public space, better transport links and modern urban living, as set out in the Local Plan and explored in the town’s regeneration study.’
He explained: ‘Our priority is striking the right balance for residents, visitors, retailers, our various partners and continuing to act in the best interest of local taxpayers by taking full account of all issues before making a decision about its future.’
A select number of interested parties are being asked for their views before a report goes to members at a Teignbridge Council Executive meeting in the autumn.