AFFORDABLE housing and providing enough jobs for young people will unlock the huge potential for Devizes as a Wiltshire town, a meeting on the future of the town has found.

100 people came to A Vision for Devizes – the Next Conversation, which was chaired by Claire Perry MP and organised jointly by the Trust for Devizes and Devizes Area Board to rejuvenate interest in the future of the town.

A significant step to improving the town’s appeal to younger people was the announcement of 38 affordable homes under construction by Astra Housing on Hambledon Avenue, between the Lidl and B&Q sites. All homes will be affordable with shared ownership and rental options available to help people onto the housing ladder.

Tony Duck, secretary for the Trust for Devizes, applauded the move towards affordable housing and said: “We are in danger that new buildings in the future will be detached houses catering for people who live in the town but commute to other places, which would make us a dormitory town.

“We need to build more affordable housing and create more employment for younger people because we are an ageing population in Devizes.”

Plans are now in place to investigate 26 brownfield sites, including Browfort on Bath Road, Stonebridge House on Nursteed Road and land next to Elm Tree Gardens, which have been identified by the Trust for Devizes, to see if homes could be built there.

Keeping people working within the town was also highlighted as a key issue facing Devizes, with many employers unable to stop staff from leaving the area.

Reacting to the meeting, held in the Town Hall, Cllr Simon Jacobs, chairman of the Devizes Area Board, said: “These are interesting times economically for Wiltshire and there is enormous potential here. From James Dyson to Boeing and then Crossrail, there is real opportunity for growth. But we have this problem in Wiltshire of 100 per cent employment so we need more people to fill the roles and live in this county. That will then bring its own issues such as increased traffic and pollution.

“It is very exciting because we can now pull out some of the points from the meeting and put them into action.

“We will take our findings to a meeting with the town’s top 12 employers next month to talk about the subject and try to find a way to deal with the issues.”

Claire Perry MP said: “I am looking forward to working with local councillors and residents to take forward these priorities and to help shape the plan to ensure that that Devizes has a bright future and is a town that attracts both people and business.”