The order banned cattle deliveries between 2100 and 0700
The future of a historic cattle market has been secured after an order banning early and late deliveries was ruled to be excessive.
Following complaints by residents, Darlington Farmers' Auction Market Ltd (DfAM) was served with a noise abatement notice by the council.
The site's owners appealed, saying the market would be unable to operate without the early deliveries.
After a two-day hearing magistrates branded the restriction "unreasonable".
Magistrates were told the market needed an early start so cattle could be taken to abattoirs for slaughter on the same day.
A later start leading to the loss of buyers, and the market going out of business in a short time.
Residents had complained about banging gates, running motors and noise from staff at the site at Clifton Road.
Darlington Council served the noise abatement order under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in January, after a visit by environmental health officer Edward Whelan who deemed the noise a "statutory nuisance".
Mr Whelan told Darlington Magistrates' Court that he had visited the site at 0430 on a market morning and his decision was "one of the easiest ones I've called".
However, Colin Beadle, chair of the bench, said: "We feel that a more thorough investigation was required before Mr Whelan could be sufficiently satisfied that there was a statutory nuisance."
He referred to the guidelines for noise nuisance published on the council's own website, which state that three visits would be made by officers before an abatement order was issued.
Mr Whelan had visited only once, and made his assessment outside the house of a resident who had complained, rather than going inside.
Stephen Aitken, managing director of DfAM, said the court's decision was a tremendous relief.
"Ever since the council served the notice in January it has been like a sword hanging over our heads. It could have put us out of business.
"The market has been on its present site in Darlington for 130 years and we have always got on with people living nearby.
"There is inevitably a degree of noise when we unload and load cattle. But we do everything we can to mitigate that."
A spokeswoman for the council said: "We felt we had carried out a thorough investigation.
"We are disappointed with the outcome and will now consider our options."