PLANS by a housing association to knock down garages in Devizes and build a pair of homes has angered the town council.

Devizes based Aster Group was accused of putting up the rent on the garages in Waiblingen Way so they were more likely to become empty which would enhance its argument to knock them down.

A number of councillors spoke out against the proposal in an area which suffers from parking problems.

Cllr Nigel Carter said the company, which is both a landlord and a developer, had put garage rents up so they were untenable. He said: "Aster has made the garage rents unaffordable so they can knock them down."

He said that although the town did need more homes this site would be better used as a car park.

Other councillors agreed and Cllr Kathleen Shaw wanted to know if there had been any consultation.

Cllr Sue Evans said she had spoken to a number of people living in Waiblingen Way. She said: "They can't afford to pay the high rents. Car parking not houses are needed on this site."

Councillors said it would be better to knock down the garages and create a flat car park for a number of cars. They said parking problems were made more difficult as patients at Lansdowne doctors' surgery used the road and workers from nearby offices also parked there.

They voted to object to the plan.

In a report to Wiltshire Council agents for Aster said: "Two blocks of garages currently occupy the site with a hard-surfaced area in between. The block on the eastern side of the site contains 10 garages and that on the west has 11.

"As only five of the garages are rented out, and there are numerous vacant garages on the estate, it is clear that the site is under-utilised and offers potential for redevelopment within this residential area.

"Aster Group Housing Association is therefore proposing to make the best use of this parcel of land within the town by seeking the erection of a pair of semi

detached open market dwellings. Any profits from the sale of the site would be used to fund the provision of new affordable housing."

Last year when asked about rent increases an Aster spokesman said: "We want to continue investing in our garage portfolio and provide customers with an enhanced product. This means reviewing our current stock in line with the private rental market as well as against the consumer price index.

"As a result we have advised our customers of a garage rent increase of four per cent from April 2018."