A LEGAL battle is looming over the future of a park, amid fears that some of the land could be lost in a redevelopment scheme.

Hambleton District Council is to look at possible uses for Northallerton's auction mart site, if proposals to relocate the mart from the town centre to the outskirts go ahead.

The authority has asked Northallerton Town Council to examine documents relating to the neighbouring Applegarth, to establish if there are any legal restrictions which could hinder redevelopment projects.

But the request has provoked anxiety among members of the town council, which owns the Applegarth, who fear that some of the park could disappear under the plans.

The Mayor of Northallerton, Jack Dobson, said the land had been given to the town council as part of the 1974 local government shake-up.

He added that councillors would be taking legal advice to ensure the park was kept for Northallerton's residents.

He said: "The district council is asking for the deeds to the Applegarth, but we shouldn't hand them over until we find out exactly what the legal position is.

"It was left in the stewardship of the town council and we have got to get legal opinion before we say or do anything.

"They are trying to go forward with a development which would mean using some of the Applegarth, but we want to maintain it on behalf of the people of Northallerton."

Hambleton planning director Steve Quartermain said they were trying to establish if there were any legal restrictions on the site which could affect possible redevelopment schemes.

He said no plans for the auction mart had yet been drawn up, and the authority was trying to determine what was possible and what was not.

He said: "We have asked the town council to find out if there are any covenants on the Applegarth that we needed to be aware of that would prevent certain options being pursued.

"We have no pre-conceived plans, we're looking at the opportunities which exist and we need to gather information to do that."

He said that the town council had been asked to provide the information some time ago and they were still waiting for a response.