THE sight of a loose animal at a farmers' market has reignited concerns around the area’s development, as the mart's long-awaited move out of town was put back until "later in summer".

Residents of Waverly Terrace in Darlington have expressed concerns over the site and developments at Bank Top and Victoria Road after a loose animal was spotted last week.

Steven Thompson, who caught the animal on his home’s CCTV footage, said when moving into his property ten years ago he was told Darlington Farmers' Auction Mart, on Clifton Road, would be moving “in a few years”.

The 34-year-old dad, who now sleeps with earplugs, said the noise is disruptive as wagons are active early on Monday and Thursday mornings, and raised concerns over rats at the site that may enter residential properties once it the current structure is demolished.

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He said: “I’m disappointed in the council that never help. They try to come across helpful but they will just do what they want in the end.”

Darlington Council said its Environmental Health team has received no noise complaints relating to the cattle market in the last two years.

The team also has not received any complaints regarding rats, although in response to the planning application for demolition of the site one resident did ask if the rats would be removed before work starts which will be looked at when the time comes.

Meanwhile, fellow resident and chairman of the Waverly Terrace Association, Paul Cowen, 58, blames local frustration on what he claimed was a lack of communication by the council.

He said: “The residents want to be involved but the council is protective of information.

“We don’t know when and how it [the cattle mart] is being knocked down. If you go on the website all you see are things about bat preservation.

“They think we are going to object to everything but we want the cattle market gone too, we are not going to object.”

The almost 140-years old market is moving to a purpose-built site at Humbleton Farm, at Burtree Gate, near Heighington. An exact date for the move could not be confirmed but Darlington Council said it would be “later in summer”.

Councillor Alan Marshall said plans for the wider development have been extensively debated and consulted upon.

He added: “The council is in regular discussions with the operators of the farmers' market, with a view to taking the site back once vacated, but as a result of the pandemic the completion date for the new site will now be later in the summer.

“The immediate priority for the council when we take over the Clifton Road site is to make the area safe. We are working on plans for demolition and security and we will aim to ensure that environmental health concerns are built into those plans.

“Development plans for the area were considered by cabinet in February this year and the Victoria Road scheme was the subject of an extensive public consultation, which resulted in changes being made to address the points raised.

“The Darlington Station Improvement Scheme has been widely reported in detail and we wrote to those directly affected. Work continues on developing the scheme and there will be further public consultation when the designs are progressed to the appropriate stage.

“The future use of the cattle market site has yet to be planned and we are currently seeking consultants to develop a masterplan for the area, which would then be shared for public consultation. In the interim period, the site may be required for temporary car parking space whilst works on the station are carried out.”