Council Executive reaffirms commitment to improve the central area

PLANS to help regenerate South Molton have moved forward, with North Devon Council vowing to get behind the major project.

At an Executive meeting members reaffirmed their commitment to the regeneration of the town’s central area, agreeing the outline of a phased approach towards development.

The first phase, to provide new parking spaces and demolish derelict buildings in the town centre, will help facilitate a new foodstore. The second phase will be to continue with plans to relocate the livestock market to a new site at Pathfields, for which the council has already earmarked £1 million.

Councillor Malcolm Prowse, Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, says: “The decision has not been about just a food store, it’s about a whole package.

“The sheep pens at the back of the Amory Centre have been closed since 2001. We want to see them removed to allow for 96 more parking spaces.

“We also have other old buildings nearby that we want to clear to make way for a new foodstore, which would give choice to residents and make the area also more attractive to visitors.”

A planning application for a food store has yet to be submitted, although Tesco has been chosen as the preferred developer, following an informal tender process. It also owns part of the site, which is earmarked for redevelopment.

Subject to planning permission being granted for a food store, members agreed with the objective of providing the town with new high quality car parks, with free short stay parking for up to two hours in the area of the foodstore. New long stay (chargeable) parking would also be provided and all parking would be managed by the council and available to all.

Local ward member, Councillor David Worden, says: “This redevelopment has been a long time coming for South Molton. I think the removal of the sheep pens will be of great benefit as it will create more parking spaces for residents and visitors to come into the town and having part of the car park free for two hours will be a real bonus for the town. It shows that NDC are committed to regenerating the area. The agreed phased work means the relocation of the adjacent cattle market won’t happen until after a food store is in place which is not ideal. However, I believe we are moving in the right direction and I hope we can at last start to see and enjoy the benefits.”

Mayor of South Molton, Councillor David Goodman, says: “Of course there are aspects that we would have preferred were different to the proposals put on the table. However, this has been going on for too long and we have to move forward for the sake of South Molton’s future. As a town council, we want to work with North Devon Council to ensure that South Molton is regenerated and I believe this agreement by Executive members will help this happen.”

North Devon Council will now look to secure capital funding to remove the sheep pens and associated buildings, replacing them with more car parking spaces. It is planned this will take place from 2012 to 2014, with the removal of other disused buildings, the creation of a new food store and a new council-run car park to the rear of the pannier market, subject to planning permission. The council is currently waiting for Tesco to submit a planning application for the site.

The next phase of work would be from 2014 to 2018, which would look at the relocation of the cattle market, while supporting the creation of employment opportunities at Pathfields.