A TOWN council has responded to complaints that an ancient market at the heart of the town has been “ripped out” following a failed redevelopment project.  

In 2018, Hatherleigh residents were excited at the prospect of their historic market at the centre of the town being redeveloped — hopefully securing its future for years to come.  

At the time, Kingswood Homes revealed its vision for the town’s market, as well as new homes, a supermarket, medical centre and pavilion.

The design and access statement accompanying the application stated: “The vision is for Hatherleigh to have the best market in this part of the South West.” 

However, six years later the town has been left with no operational market building.  

Following this, residents have expressed their frustration at the situation which has seen the ‘smallest town in Devon’ lose some of history, along with its iconic market  

One resident reached out to the Post to give their views on the situation. 

The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Far from the promised securing of the future of the Ancient Hatherleigh Market, the heart and soul of the town and important to villages in the vicinity, five years later we have no operational market building, the market itself has been reduced to a table top sale in the community centre with most of the stall holders who were around in 2019 no longer trading and the ones that soldier on, barely scraping an income.”  

Since the closure, the community have been fundraising in the hope of being able to purchase the site, however, with high costs and as such high funds required, this has not yet been achieved.  

The resident continued: “It is sad that well-meaning people who really didn't have "a scooby" bought into this project believing that Kingswood would really provide Hatherleigh with a market area fit for the 21st century.  

“Eight hundred years of history have gone down the toilet.”  

However, with rising tensions among locals, Hatherleigh Town Council have responded with some big news regarding the site’s future.

A spokesperson for the council explained: “I am happy to report that the situation is not as bleak as your enquiry would suggest.  

“There have in fact, been a number of very positive developments during May, as a result of which we are very close to finalising a deal with Kingswood Homes to secure a long term leasehold interest of the new pannier market site, and we are excited by the plans to evolve and grow the market to see it flourish in its new location.” 

The council has stressed its understanding of the local and historic significance of the site, and despite unsuccessful attempts to secure purchase of the freehold, the council has revealed that its is edging closer to securing the long-term lease of the new pannier market site. 

A spokesperson continued: “Hatherleigh Town Council understands the historic importance of the market, and views the market as being key to the economic regeneration of Hatherleigh and an important part of the town's identity and heritage.  

“Unfortunately, our grant funding application to the community ownership fund to enable us to buy the freehold was not able to proceed as we were unable to secure a freehold valuation.  

“I am however very happy to report that we are very close to finalising a 25 year lease for the site, the enhancements required to the building to make it fit for purpose for year-round trading and competitive financing options to fund the building enhancements. The terms of the lease include a substantial discount on the rent for the first 10 years which will help support the market in its early years on the new site.” 

The council is hopeful that this will ensure the market remains open for the foreseeable future, and while the initial lease lasts a 25 year period, the council has expressed that there will be the option to extend for a further 25 years.  

A spokesperson explained: “Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, we will have the right to renew the lease at the end of its term, meaning we can effectively secure the use of the site for the market for as long as the community wants it.”  

With plans progressing, the council hopes that trading at the new site can begin this summer, bringing back some of the town’s ancient history.

The spokesperson added: “We are working hard with Kingswood Homes to finalise arrangements and get the new site ready for the community market to start trading at the new site this summer.”  

• What are your thoughts on the situation, would you like to see the return of the town’s historic market? Let us know via: [email protected]