Campaign for Hatherleigh market dealt a blow

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

A campaign to preserve Hatherleigh market has been “forced” to withdraw an application to have the market registered as a community asset.

The application for an Asset of Community Value (ACV) was made to West Devon Borough Council but was objected to by Kingswood Homes, who plan to redevelop the entire site and replace the current building with a smaller modernised market.

The Hatherleigh Market Campaign has continually objected to plans for a major development by
Liverpool based developer Kingswood Homes. The group believe that the new development is a threat to the viability of the market. Campaigners had hoped that registering the building as a community asset would protect it from development.

Kingswood Homes recently submitted revised plans which attempted to address some of the objections to the development. The developer has reportedly exchanged contracts and purchased the market building from Greg Vick of Vick’s Auctioneers.

Kingswood Homes have voiced a different perspective on the markets best chances of survival. The firm claim that the potential development is the “only” way to ensure the longevity of the market. The developers have handed out leaflets in the town stating: “The current weekly market operated by Hatherleigh Market CIC is proving to be financially unsustainable, despite operating rent-free courtesy of Kingswood Homes.”

Charles Dumpleton who has spearheaded the campaign disputes the developer’s claims: “The real reason (for the withdrawal of the bid) was that we objected to their planning and applied again for an ACV. This resulted in two immediate responses from them, firstly our removal, and secondly the threat to close the market immediately if we did not withdraw the ACV application.”

“I think the same thing that happened to Holsworthy will happen here. Since they moved the market from Holsworthy, the stall holders have moved out of town, unlike shopkeepers they’re not tied to a particular place. The last thing we want to see is the market close. We will continue to fight to keep the market going and to re-establish the livestock market. Our chief problem is to get the vendor to take us seriously and to persuade Hatherleigh Town Council that we can achieve our aim.”

Charles continued: “Staff at the school, I am told, believe that the new children in the town will have to go to another school due to a shortage of places. I also heard that the sewage works will not be able to cope with the amount of new houses.”
Charles is hopeful about the campaign despite the removal of the bid: “I do wonder if all this pressure we’re under at the moment is part of their last attempt to get the planning through.”

The campaign group have been fundraising, even obtaining a Guinness World Record in January for the most lots sold at auction over a 24hour period. “There’s still money in the bank to help with the fight, said Charles. “We’ve been promised over £600,000 from donors.” The campaign group has also been removed from running the weekly market on Tuesdays, due to increased tensions with the developer.

Part of the proposed site was formerly a rubbish tip. Some residents have raised the issue that the council itself could be held to account if people buy domestic property, and problems later surface relating to waste in the ground. There are varying views in the local community. One letter of objection from a M J Baddeley stated concerns regarding the abattoir on the site being so close to housing. The letter stated “Their property would be next door to an abattoir that has regular odour issues, is noisy and operates around the clock. Sadly, foul odours are not contained by a 90 metre ink barrier drawn upon a paper plan, as many local residents (at quite some distance) can attest to.”

The updated plans submitted around three weeks ago reduced the total number of homes from 123 to 102 after objections were made to the scale of the development. The plans also included the relocation of the main square, and a significant
increase in car parking. The developers have
included a market site in the plans, but campaigners do not believe it to be sufficient.  Public consultation on the new plans ended on March 18th, planners will now consider the application.