THE relocation of South Molton's cattle market could be one step closer after the town council approved the idea of an option agreement on land set aside for it.
The eight-hectare piece of land, which is owned by the town council, had been previously earmarked for the cattle market.
But members agreed to enter into discussions with North Devon Council to allow planning applications to be submitted for the site to the east of Pathfields Industrial Estate.
The creation of an option agreement of this kind will mean the cattle market can now be moved to a different site to the west of Pathfields if needed.
This will allow businesses to submit planning applications to the town council for the land it owns.
It is hoped by opening the land up to applications will create much-needed employment opportunities for South Molton.
The choices now remain for the cattle market to either be located in a one and a half hectare space to the east of Pathfields, or potentially within the larger 22 hectare site to the west of the industrial estate.
At a town council meeting last Tuesday, members moved the motion to say they would enter into discussions with North Devon Council to work out the finer details of the option agreement.
Town clerk Malcolm Gingell said: "All councillors have agreed that we should contact North Devon Council to say we will go into an option agreement with them regarding the possible relocation of the cattle market."
The town council will now wait for a contract to be written up by Diana Hill at NDC.
Councillor David Worden stressed the importance of freeing up the land for employment.
He said: "It is extremely important that the option agreement is signed as soon as possible.
"This will then allow businesses wishing to locate at South Molton to put in for planning permission.
"We need new jobs for residents in this area and this should help to provide them."
But despite the option agreement proposals, councillor Worden is not optimistic about the prospect of the cattle market being relocated any time soon.
He added: "The big problem is it needs someone with a lot of money to come along who is going to use it for the right purposes, and not just as a cattle market."
And there has already been a hold up with the development of redundant sheep pens which used to be part of the livestock market.
Planning permission was granted back in September for the land to be turned into 108 car parking spaces.
However a member of the town council has requested clarification over ownership of the land, meaning until this is sorted the creation of the car park may be halted.