People in Devizes social housing are fearful that they could be moved from homes where they have lived for years, and away from friends, families and jobs.

Sovereign Housing are in the process of selling properties at Snuff Cottages, just off New Park Street.

The listed buildings, that used to form part of the town’s snuff factory, are ageing and require a large amount of upkeep.

Due to this, Sovereign Housing have found they are becoming less desirable for current and future residents - leading to their sale.

But their current inhabitants, who have been told they will have to leave within 18 months, say they feel stuck in “limbo" about where they will find themselves.

Zoe Bailey moved into the properties after she lived in a women’s shelter.

She explained that many, like her, had made Snuff Court their home, and had been shocked when they were told they would need to move, but with no certainty as to where.

“How is it fair?” she said. “They say they are giving us like for like, but that’s just not the case. Most of us have no idea where we’ll even be offered.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Richard is awaiting news of where he will be placedRichard is awaiting news of where he will be placed

Richard Kimber lives in Snuff Court cottages, with his wife and two cats.

He has been writing and fighting for a suitable new home for his family.

He said: “We are not just losing a house, but we are losing a home.”

Jade Phillips added that many were under the impression they would be able to live as long as they’d like in the properties. Her work and family are all in Devizes and, like other residents, she does not want to start a new life in an unfamiliar area.

“There’s a huge sense of community here now,” Daryl Nottley added. “It is a huge shame to tear everyone apart and lose that.”

Sovereign say they are working with all the existing residents at Snuff Court to find them suitable alternative housing that they can move to over the coming months.

They then plan to carry out some structural work to the buildings before selling them - and investing the proceeds into more affordable housing in Wiltshire.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Iain Wallis and Maria Hoult, candidates in this year’s election, met with residents this week to discuss their options.

Iain, who has raised the issue with deputy council leader Richard Clewer, described it as “property musical chairs” and urged Sovereign for clarity.

He himself has been in a similar situation just a matter of years ago.

Maria, who is also working with the residents, added: “These are people, not animals.

"It is horrible the way they have been treated.”

Sovereign say: “The wellbeing of our residents is our priority, so we’re working very closely with each of the households to help them move to a home that’s best suited to their personal needs, situation and family circumstances.

“Due to Covid restrictions, we couldn’t hold an on-site meeting to let all residents know at the same time. Instead, we rang and wrote to them and included some questions and answers with our letter.

"We’ve also continued to keep in contact with each household to see what else they’d like to ask and to talk to them about their options around moving – but there won’t be any immediate changes unless we find an early move that residents are happy with."

So far, 11 of the 27 residents have already found somewhere they’d like to move to.

Read more in this Thursday's Gazette and Herald