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Time factor vital to stop market vanishing - farmers
3:26pm Wednesday 19th September 2012 in News
FARMERS fear that Malton ’s livestock market could disappear for ever unless more time is given to find a suitable place for its relocation from its current site near the centre of town.
Their concerns were raised at the public inquiry being heard over the future of the current site.
Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate has appealed against Ryedale District Council’s decision to throw out the Estate’s plans to redevelop the site with a medium-sized supermarket and other retail units.
Just before the inquiry began, the Estate issued a notice to quit on auctioneers Boulton & Cooper who lease the site by October next year.
But the inquiry heard from representatives of the farming industry that while they accept the market cannot stay where it is they need more time to find another site.
This view was challenged by Peter Village QC, representing the Estate, who argued that they had had since 2007 when plans were published by the Estate to redevelop the site.
The inquiry heard that the overall cost of finding a new site, setting up the infrastructure and running it would be about £3 million.
However, farmer and haulier Patrick Foxton, who is chairman of the board of directors of the new Malton market company, Malton and Ryedale Farmers Livestock Market, said building a new market could take up to two years and that did not include any time involved in seeking planning permissions.
“The notice to terminate the market lease by October 2013 does not allow sufficient time to relocate the market,” said Mr Foxton.
“Yet again farmers have been short changed by not being allowed to time to organise the relocation of the market. I suggest that if the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate had put as much time and effort and finance in helping to relocate the market as they have in not helping to relocate it. Malton would by now have a new and prosperous market.”
He said that in discussions with the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation – a separate body – their offer of a freehold site on which to relocate the market was a very positive step forward to ensure Malton retained its livestock market well into the 21st century.
The market is run by Boulton & Cooper and fellow auctioneers Cundalls under the banner of Malton Livestock Auctioneers.
James Stephenson, a partner of MLA said there has been a market on the present site in Malton for more than 100 years under successive leases from the Fitzwilliam Estate.
He said: “Ever since I became a director of Boulton & Cooper in 1987 I have tried to explore with the Estate the prospects of an alternative site out of town as the general pattern for relocating markets has been a shift to sites with good road access and less urban pressure.
“The outcome of our discussions was frustratingly similar with no offer from the Estate of any practical option or financial support.”
He said of their objection to allowing the planning application is based on the following grounds – That MLA is a viable business able to pay the modern 2008 rent and leave a modest profit.
The market provides not only employment for the auctioneers and their staff but also an invaluable service to the wider rural community which is unique in Ryedale.
Currently there were three auctioneers, five clerks and cashiers and a further 10 part-time droving and cleaning staff.
Last year the throughput involved 6,720 cattle which would extend to more than 10 miles if stood head to tail, and 84,768 sheep which would stretch 80 miles. Turnover for the year was £5.8 million for cattle and £7.4 million for sheep.
“The strength of public feeling in favour of retaining the market in Malton is reflected in more than 5,000 signatures that were put to a petition to save the market.
“Everyone needs to understand that once the market closes without an alternative site being ready to operate, its chances of survival will be remote.
“Buyers and sellers will be forced to find new marketing channels and having done so, trade would be very difficult to retrieve.
“Since I started in business more than 50 years ago we have lost about 70 per cent of our markets in Yorkshire and I cannot remember one reopening after closure.
“In addition to its economic benefit, the market provides a meeting place for farmers and the rural community. This is an important safety net and there is no other facility in the region to replace it.
“Looking to the future, we have been involved in serious and positive discussion with all players able to assist us including the council, the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate, the farmers and another branch of the Fitzwilliam family, the Fitzwilliam Trust Corperation.
“It is from this last body that a generous offer has been made to provide a site on the Pickering Road which has the unofficial blessing of the council.”
Mr Stephenson continued: “Our objection is not to the principle of having the existing market site redeveloped but to the manner in which the Estate is trying to implement it.
“In our opinion the Estate has an obligation to see the market relocated once it has made a planning application for change of use and should be made to do so as required by the council.”
Winston Kobylka, director of Woodalls, an agricultural supply firm in Malton, while favouring a redevelopment of the present site said it was important to continue to have a market as it fulfilled a number of criteria and national policy was to support a prosperous rural economy.
He felt that the structure of an alternative market site should also include a wider agri-business element and there had been expressions of interest from a number of agricultural participants.
Derek Watson of Cundalls pointed out that the market was one of the top three or four in England and was extremely well supported. Over the year there had been 3,840 buyers and sellers.
While the number of farmers in the UK had fallen, the livestock market had increased its numbers and he estimated about 80 per cent of Ryedale livestock farmers had active accounts and just about every livestock farmer in the area had used it over time.
“Closing the market with no replacement would mean that the people who used it in the past would have to go elsewhere and I think a new market should be there before this site is redeveloped,” he said.
He said they were “well down the road” for a business plan for the new market but they needed up to an extra 18 months after next October to fulfil their plans.
David Carruthers, an architect and part-time conservation officer with Ryedale District Council, said the proposals by the Estate would cause harm to the significance of the site and other heritage assets and there would be an adverse impact on the character of the locality.
He was concerned about the height and mass of the proposed buildings and the scale of the proposals were unable to satisfy the criteria for the site and its sensitivity although he agreed the current buildings were an eyesore.
Questioned by Mr Village, he said: “It is my job to make sure the scheme is as respectful to the heritage aspects as possible.”
But Mike Skehan, clerk to Malton Town Council, said that while it was accepted a continued livestock market in or around Malton was highly desirable, the current site was not appropriate for the future.
He said the town council had been “stunned” by the process which happened at the planning committee where the decision to reject the Estate’s scheme was taken.
Coun Paul Andrews said the market would have to move because it could not stay where it was if the Wentworth Street car park development went ahead as it would deprive the use of facilities for the parking of cattle wagons.
He suggested there should be a condition attached to the cattle market scheme for the Estate to make a contribution to the cost of relocating the market.