Axe looms large over Lancs mart

21 September 2001

Axe looms large over Lancs mart

By Stan Clare

PRESTON livestock market looks set to close following a decision by local councillors to remove covenants that prevented the site from being used for non-agricultural purposes.

This opens the way for the owners, Kendal & District Auction Mart, to sell the Lancs market for redevelopment.

The council imposed the restrictions when KDAM bought the 2.8ha (7 acre) site in 1983. The company paid £525,000 and has since spent over £540,000 on modernisation. But the mart is now surrounded by residential properties and estimates suggest it could be worth up to £2m.

At its height, Preston traded up to 700 beef cattle, 300 dairy cows and high numbers of sheep a week. But throughput declined by about two-thirds in recent years, though numbers were climbing again before foot-and-mouth struck.

However, KDAM, which also owns its Kendal site in Cumbria, has confirmed that it is committed to retaining an auction outlet in the Preston catchment area.

Directors have met Brock Arms Auction board based at nearby Garstang and arranged to use those premises as an over-30-month scheme collection centre.

KDAM is also formulating plans to relocate to the M6 corridor to ensure better access for modern transporters. Like Preston, the 1.8ha (4.5 acre) Kendal site is surrounded by homes and lacks easy access.

The group is researching the potential of a location next to junction 36 of the M6 at Crooklands, between Carnforth and Kendal, while Myerscough College conducts a feasibility study. KDAM envisages a purpose-built agricultural centre.

Ken Hudson, a farmer and leader of the Conservative group on Preston Borough Council, said: "We consulted with all the interested parties connected with the market.

"We did everything possible for the farmers. In the end, faced with the circumstances, members had little option."

Rodney Bacon, local NFU policy adviser, welcomed KDAMs declared commitment to the Preston catchment area, saying it reflected the importance of the area for livestock. &#42

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