MAJOR redevelopment proposals to transform the centre of Hatherleigh have been approved, writes Daniel Clarke.

West Devon Borough Council’s development control and licensing committee last week gave the go-ahead to Kingswood Homes’ plans to revamp the former cattle market site.

The existing market buildings will be demolished, with 102 new homes, a new market square, an auction facility, a pavilion, commercial units, and car parking facilities built on the site.

Designed to fit the Hatherleigh 2028 vision, the plans are for ‘what a rural town should be’ with the best market in the south west, the documents submitted to West Devon Borough Council state.

Around £1-million is set to be invested in the new market as part of an overall £20-million investment in the scheme.

Approval for the project was granted by councillors despite them hearing that there would be no affordable housing in the scheme. But they were told that the developers were negotiating with a housing association to provide 25 per cent of the homes on a shared ownership, part-rent part-buy basis.

The plans had been recommended for approval, with a report to the planning committee saying: “The development of the market site is understandably highly emotive — the site sits physically, historically and socially at the centre of Hatherleigh town, which in turn is central to so many surrounding rural villages.

“It is understood from discussions with, and representations from, the community and their representatives, that there are very mixed views regarding the current scheme. However it is evident that this scheme has evolved — responding to community comments and needs, changes in viability and the housing market, abattoir operations and officer advice.

“The scheme now includes more parking than any previous iteration and has sought to join the feather and furs building to the market hall in response to community requests.

“Although there is never complete certainty that an applicant will build out a site as sites can change hands, it is Kingswood Homes’ intention to develop this site and their portfolio of previous sites suggests they are adept at developing bespoke schemes for sites with constraints and idiosyncrasies, rather than simply mass housing on greenfield sites.

“It is considered overall to be a sound and considered scheme for the town and most importantly has prioritised continuation of the market whilst improving the current facilities.

“The market can be accommodated throughout construction and eventually relocate into its new improved facilities. The levels of parking proposed are considered adequate for the market to operate and thrive and improved bus route through the development right past the market square will improve its accessibility.

“The housing is of an appropriate mix, type and quantum to complement and diversify the housing offer already present in and around the town. As such it is officer recommendation that this scheme be approved.”

Plans for a new supermarket, a medical centre and industrial units, all originally proposed for the site, though have been scrapped as there was little appetite locally and commercial for them and alternative medical provision were being made elsewhere.

The proposals have split the town, and the ward member, Cllr Patrick Kimber, had called for West Devon’s planning committee to make the decision, saying: “I think it should go to the planning committee because it is a major change for our town and the community is divided. I would like residents to be able to make representations directly to the members on the committee.”

The plans would see 102 homes built including 25 one-bed (including 21 bungalows), 21 two-bed, 35 three-bed and 21 four and more bed properties.

There would also be a market pavilion with attached enclosed feather and fur building, a market square, 200 car parking spaces, and shops, restaurants, cafes and professional services.

The approval granted is subject to a section 106 legal agreement being signed within six months that outline timescales for when the new market, pavilion, shops and apartments and riverside path would be delivered, as well as £178,000 to be given to Devon County Council towards education provision.

• What do you think of the plans for the revamped Hatherleigh Market site? Email your responses to [email protected]