A HIGH COURT judge has ruled Dorset's last cattle market can be sold to a major supermarket after objectors launched a legal bid to halt the scheme.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the market will reportedly be sold by the district council to Lidl for £1.9 million.

However, Shaftesbury Town Council sought legal advice to stop the sale, eventually backing a campaign for a judicial review in the High Court launched by group Justice for Shaftesbury. Some £10,000 was allocated by the town council for legal and professional advice.

But after consideration of the documents lodged, Judge Anthony Elleray refused permission for a judicial review, saying he had not found an arguable case.

Southern Counties Auctioneers, which runs the market, have leased the site off Christy’s Lane from the district council since 1967. They hold the lease until 2054. The livestock market in Shaftesbury has been going on since the 19th century and the existing market can trace its history back to 1902.

Currently, the market hosts dairy cattle sales periodically, as well as weekly calf and beef store sales. An Aberdeen Angus show and sale takes place each April.

A decision to sell the site was made because cattle sales are in decline, council officials say.

Councillor Michael Roake, North Dorset District Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said he was "pleased" with the "positive outcome".

"A judicial review risked being a costly distraction and this judgement confirms our belief that the argument proposed by Justice for Shaftesbury had no merit," he said.

“A new supermarket for the town will attract more visitors to Shaftesbury, boosting the economy and creating more jobs.

“We’ve continued to process the sale of the site and are hopeful of completing this in the near future.”

Councillors agreed to the sale of the site in April. Officials say they followed a competitive process which attracted a number of bids.

Members of Justice for Shaftesbury claimed the district council had not properly consulted the town council or local residents first. They also criticised a lack of transparency over the buyer of the site.