Transforming Bideford Cattle Market will take focus next year, according to Torridge District Council leader Jane Whittaker.

The Bideford Cattle Market site. Picture: Matt SmartThe Bideford Cattle Market site. Picture: Matt Smart

The highlights of the year were primarily the completion of the current phase of the Transforming Torridge programme, the continued success of the New Homes Bonus Community Grants scheme and the final clearance of the old Cattle Market site.

The delivery of a new Wheels Park, increased investment in industrial/commercial land and the adoption of the Local Plan, which has been 10 years in the making, were also highlights.

The development of new offices at Caddsdown and the purchase of land in Torrington will deliver greater opportunities for increased investment in the local economy.

The ongoing challenge will always be finding and purchasing more industrial/commercial sites.

Having been finally adopted, our Local Plan will bring certainty as to how development is delivered throughout Torridge until 2030.

However, build out rates are slow and there is considerable pressure being brought on all councils to ensure that they maintain the numbers to be built.

Land banking is potentially a serious problem for all district councils.

Transforming Torridge has brought all but the waste and recycling service staff under one roof, modernising the buildings, and so future proofing the built environment of the council.

We have however to continue to look for a suitable site to deliver and run our waste and recycling service, one which is reasonably accessible to Bideford.

The New Homes Bonus Community Grants scheme, begun during the current Conservative-led council, has seen investment of £1.2million into Torridge's community and voluntary sector and also into projects being driven by local parish councils.

From renewed play schemes and a sea cadets safety boat to a local groups new mini bus and provision for a community run cinema demonstrates the diversity of the funds provided.

There is no change as to how the New Homes Bonus Scheme is to be allocated from central government for next year which could mean that TDC's policy to redistribute this in community grants will continue for another 12 months.

That will be a decision for the new council and its members to make eventually, with elections scheduled for May 2019.

After 17 years to see the old cattle market site cleared has to be a far better prospect for everyone living adjacent to it.

The plan when it comes to fruition is to develop the site for a variety of sport and leisure facilities, however the challenge will be to secure the funding for these as the cost will be considerable.

The popularity of skate boarding and roller boarding has strengthened the need to provide for this sport locally especially for our younger residents.

Until now many young people have travelled considerable distances to pursue their sport, so a state of the art facility in Bideford will be very welcome.