Hatherleigh Market has had its future secured after Hatherleigh Town Council voted to explore a new deal to secure the market from Kingswood Homes for the town.

Friends of Hatherleigh Market, a group made up of business owners and residents Richard Burrow and Ben Bailey and West Devon borough councillor for Hatherleigh Patrick Kimber, have negotiated a deal with developer Kingswood Homes for ownership of the market to be transferred to Hatherleigh Town Council.

The new deal paves the way for the town council to buy the market building, market square and car park via a 25-year lease purchase agreement. This aims to ensure the future of the market —hugely important for the town — as a community asset for the long term.

Mr Burrow said: ‘The historic vote from Hatherleigh Town Council to support exploring a new deal to acquire the new market building from Kingswood Homes is an important first step towards properly safeguarding the future of Hatherleigh Market for the town.

‘We are very excited to be a part of this project and look forward to working with Debbie Kimber, the current market operator, and the town council to assemble a working group with the right skills and experience to make the future of Hatherleigh Market a bright and successful one.’

Hatherleigh Town Council is now actively engaging in assembling an experienced working group to make sure the venture succeeds.

The new group will work on fundraising, marketing, operational support, parking management, event development and supporting the market operator to expand the number of markets and events held at the site. Kingswood Homes have agreed to install solar panels on the roof and to provide energy for the new development, with the excess to be sold back to the National Grid.

The Friends group say they are confident they have a sound business case, with other income to come from market rents, car parking fees and local advertising sponsorship to cover the lease purchase repayments. The deal will pay for improvements to the original building proposed by Kingswood Homes, to include sides and glass windows to make the building weatherproof all year around. Materials are on site for building work to continue and the market to be completed by the autumn. Kingswood Homes managing director, Paul Jones, said: ‘We’re pleased that we have been able to come to this agreement with the town council after protracted negotiations. When we purchased the land for The Market Quarter, we identified that the market area was a prime location for regeneration within the town, and so our scheme centred around a new market square with a mix of small-scale retail and employment offerings, supported by residential development.

The market itself is a key element of the town and it’s great its legacy has now been secured.’