Scotland is set to get a new £10 million auction mart and agricultural centre at Hill of Drip, Stirling.

Property developers Elphinstone Group overcame another hurdle in their long-running battle with planners and local objectors when Stirling Council – in an unprecedented move in the run up to this week’s local government elections – called a special meeting to approve the Group’s revised plans for the new centre.

The plans were originally turned down last September but were finally approved by 18 votes to two, following an acrimonious 45-minute debate.

The two councillors opposing the proposals – both Tories – tabled an amendment calling for the land to be reinstated should the new mart discontinue operations in the future.

‘Anti-business and anti-farming’

Labour councillor, Gillie Thomson, branded the move a “wrecking amendment”.

“This is anti-business and anti-farming,” said Mr Thomson. “I can’t believe Conservative councillors are doing this.”

Final approval rests with Scottish Ministers because the development is earmarked for a greenfield site but this is expected to be a formality, given the near unanimous vote of the council.

The new mart will replace the nearby Kildean Mart which was built 40 years ago. Mart operators, United Auctions, will rent the mart from Elphinstone. UA was the subject of a management buy-out from Elphinstone last year.

The new mart will have two sales rings, a flexible sales hall and 440 pens to accommodate over 3000 cattle. It will also incorporate a number of agricultural retail units.

“If final planning approval is given, work could start as early as the summer and we could be operational at the new mart within a year,” said UA chairman, David Leggat.

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