CONTROVERSIAL plans to move a historic livestock market out of a town centre after hundreds of years will be debated by councillors.

The owners of Thame Livestock Market have applied for planning permission to move it to land in the nearby village of Moreton.

The current business has been based in North Street in Thame since 1951, but livestock fairs have been held in Thame since Medieval times.

The owners now say their existing facilities are outdated in terms of equipment and buildings, with insufficient parking and circulation space causing traffic congestion.

However several local councils and council officers have raised concerns about the sustainability of creating such a large development in the countryside and its effect on the local road network.

To make the matter more contentious, last time the market applied for permission to move in 2008 – then to Thame Showground – the district council refused and the matter went to a Government planning inspector on appeal.

In their planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council, the market managers explained: "Much of the livestock penning is in the open with no protection for the animals from adverse weather. The layout of the site makes compliance with bio-security requirements difficult to implement.

"The current facilities are therefore a restraint on market operations and hence a challenge to the long-term viability of the market in the

changing agricultural economy of the twenty-first century."

The new development they are proposing the build would provide space for a new ‘state of the art’ market and associated facilities with better links to the national road network.

The managers say it will also act as a 'hub' for the farming community, 'providing a range of services and help to sustain a robust and diverse agricultural economy in the region'.

Thame Town Council raised 'highway safety concerns' in relation to junction with Moreton Road and the entrance to Manor Farm.

Moreton Residents Association said it was 'broadly in support' of the move, but also raised concerns about the scale of such an 'unplanned development' with no policy backing in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan or the district Local Plan.

South Oxfordshire District Council will discuss the application at Didcot Civic Hall on Wednesday from 6pm.