NORTH Devon Council has agreed terms that will unlock a £20million investment package for South Molton. Decisions made surrounding the future of the town s Central Car Park and livestock market are seen as the catalyst for an exciting period of large-scal

NORTH Devon Council has agreed terms that will unlock a £20million investment package for South Molton.Decisions made surrounding the future of the town's Central Car Park and livestock market are seen as the catalyst for an exciting period of large-scale regeneration expected to take place during the next two years.A new food store and medical centre are now firmly in the offing for the town centre, while proposals for an out-of-town livestock market have also received a massive boost. The developments form part of a package of enhancements that also includes a new youth centre, as well as the current transformation of Amory House, and the recently completed skate park and Woodlands Enterprise Centre.Although discussed in private at last Tuesday's Executive meeting, details of the most significant decisions to affect South Molton in recent years can now be made public."We have agreed a fantastic package for South Molton," Cllr Malcolm Prowse, the council's Lead member for economy and regeneration, told the Gazette."It ticks all the right boxes and will secure a 21st century future for the town."South Molton is one of the top priorities for North Devon Council and things are going to happen quickly. There is a time limitation on funding and a lot will happen in the next 18 months or so."At the meeting, councillors resolved to contribute £1million towards the relocation of the livestock market to Pathfields Business Park. The council opted to move the market to an out-of-town site rather than spend an estimated £500,000 refurbishing the existing facility.Councillors hope to secure a partnership agreement with South Molton Town Council and the private sector to develop an agricultural centre of excellence on a nine-acre site nextt to the Mole Valley Farmers store.The proposed multi-million-pound one-stop-shop could feature an abattoir, veterinary practice and agricultural machinery centre.Early stageThe council is currently discussing private sector involvement with Mole Valley Farmers and said it would also explore the possibility of the project being delivered by newly-formed regeneration company, North Devon Plus."We would like to see the private sector take over the project and make it viable," said Cllr Prowse.Mole Valley Farmers' chief executive Andrew Jackson confirmed that important discussions were progressing, although still at a very early stage."This is certainly not a done deal and a lot more information is required before we can commit beyond principal," he said."But, if agreement can be reached it would be a very worthy initiative for the local farming community."At the same meeting, councillors agreed in principle the sale of the sheep pen area for the development of a new health practice. They also approved the sale of part of the Central Car Park to Tesco, an issue that had stalled negotiations with the supermarket giant in recent months.In deciding to release the land, the council has negotiated terms for a 200-space car park that will be free for shoppers to use for the first two hours.Although a planning application for a modern food store is now expected to arrive within weeks, South Molton ward member Cllr David Worden said that the new parking arrangement would be of huge benefit to traditional shops in South Molton.Delighted"A couple of hours' free parking will help the town's traders no end," he said.Cllr Worden also said that he was delighted with the decision to relocate the livestock market to Pathfields. "It's brilliant news for the town," he said. "The thought of maintaining a very old cattle market next to a brand new medical centre did not make sense. "Once and for all, we have the opportunity to move it out to Pathfields and make it not just a market, but an agricultural centre for the whole of North Devon."There are a lot of ends to still tie up, but we have taken a massive step forward and I am really pleased about it.""We need to work hard now to make it achievable. If it comes together, it will be the making of South Molton. "It will ensure the future of the town - a vibrant self-sufficient community that will attract people from the local area to come into the town and make it commercially viable."This regeneration package has the potential to do just that."Fellow South Molton ward member Cllr Sue Sewell said she was "thrilled" for the town.'Good deal'"Working with all the local authorities, Molton Area 2000 worked hard to draw up an action plan based upon the results of a public consultation in 2003," she told the Gazette."That action plan has now really come to fulfilment. All the projects highlighted have been bought forward into this scheme and at last stand a chance of happening."Cllr Sewell said that none of it could have happened without the support of the town council. Leader of North Devon Council Councillor Mike Harrison, said the decisions represented "a very good deal" both for the town and the council.