Plans for a state-of-the-art cattle mart in Rathfriland have been approved.
The facility, which will complement the existing mart, will be built on the Island Bog Road and is understood to be the biggest development in terms of size ever seen in Rathfriland.
While the scale of the facility may be unprecedented, the need for it is beyond dispute.
Rathfriland Cattle sales regularly attract upwards of 200 farmers for the weekly Friday sale with sheep sales also attracting a strong turnout.
Jim McCrum, manager of Rathfriland Farmers’ Co-Operative Society Ltd, explained that the new facility was much-needed.
“We have completely outgrown our current premises which were built in 1987,” he explained.
“This is really an extension to the other mart which is still in operation.”
The proposed new mart building will be 23,000 sq ft featuring office block, stores and washing bays within a four acre site.
Mr McCrum continued: “It’s going to be state-of-the-art, with a one-way system for traffic and livestock, and minimal contact between cattle and farmers.
“The new mart is much-needed and will generate a lot of employment,” he added.
The Rathfriland Farmers’ Co-operative is a major business within the area generating a profit in excess of £12.3m in 2014.
Mr McCrum added: “We are in constant contact with DARD regarding any help they can give us - we are always open for grants.”
Director at Laverty Foster Chartered Architects, Ian Foster explained that the buildings would provide accommodation for people and animals to ‘extremely high standards’ in addition to meeting all animal welfare standards.
Local councillors at the Monday night meeting of Banbridge District Council’s Public Service’s Liaison Committee gave the project their backing, with a number expressing the hope that a new facility might go some way to alleviating the current traffic congestion that is often caused by parking along the side of the road.