Blow for community bid to buy old Otley cattle market site

Wharfedale Observer: The former Bridge End Cattle Market off Billams Hill, Otley The former Bridge End Cattle Market off Billams Hill, Otley

A community group's hopes of buying Otley's former cattle market site have been dealt a blow.

Residents applied in April to have the riverside land at Bridge End classified as an Asset of Community Value.

If successful, that would have granted them six months, under the Community Right to Bid scheme, to raise funds and submit an offer ahead of any commercial bid.

But Leeds City Council has concluded that the long derelict site - though used for the Six Dales Trail, Otley Show and Otley Carnival - does not qualify as it doesn't currently further "the social interests or wellbeing of the local community."

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: "I am disappointed that Leeds have not listed the site as one of community value.

"My ward colleagues and I supported the proposal to designate it as such because we feel this open area does provide views up the valley and could become an integral part of Otley's riverside.

"I appreciate that a local group have put forward proposals to buy the land and develop it for community use, and I would hope they will continue with the proposal and help clear up this eyesore."

Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added that he hoped the decision would not deter residents from pushing ahead with their attempt to buy the land and return it to nature.

He said: "In the end it doesn’t really matter whether the ‘community right to bid’ is in place or not, as I don’t see a mad dash of developers wanting to buy the land.

"If the community really wants it and the money is found then there is no reason why this can’t still happen."

Otley Town Council had supported the Community Right to Bid attempt too.

The 3.4 acre site, which is on a flood plain and been the subject of unsuccessful housing and parking proposals, was put up for sale earlier this year.

It lies within Otley Conservation Area and has been unused since the former cattle market closed in 2000.

The land's condition, with old concrete hardstanding from the market still in place, was a source of dispute between landowners Parkmount Estates and Conserve Otley Riverside Campaign (CORC), along with the city council, for several years.

CORC had pushed, with backing from Leeds, for the site to be restored to its original green field state - a goal now being pursued by the community group hoping to buy it.

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