Just ten people remain at the Hedges Houses housing complex in West Lavington as the housing association behind the decision to close it down scopes out planning opportunities for the site.

Dominic Muns, councillor for the Lavingtons, said he hoped Wiltshire Council can be encouraged to hold housing associations to account and make a change in policy, to ensure people are guaranteed a proper future in their homes.

“The residents of Hedges House have been left in an awful situation,” he said. “It’s similar to what has happened at Furlong Close. People have assumed they would be able to spend their entire lives here, only to have the rug pulled out beneath them. This goes beyond Hedges House, it’s happening all over. What I do hope is that there is soon some sort of proper look at policy and the relationships local authorities have with housing associations.”

He hopes that it will encourage local authorities to examine their relations with housing associations, and agreements and promises made from the initial arrangements.

One of the last ten residents remaining, said: “It has been disturbing to see people move away.

“We’ve had newsletters through from Aster about people who have moved on and the places they’ve found, but that still doesn’t get past the fact that this shouldn’t have happened. Especially during a pandemic when we couldn’t get out and meet each other properly.”

Long-term sustainability fears and rising maintenance costs led to the decision by Aster, which said some residents had already expressed a desire to live closer to towns, shops and local services.

A spokeswoman from the housing association said: “We know that change can be unsettling. Throughout the process, we’ve been and continue to be in regular contact with our customers at Hedges House to provide reassurance and offer ongoing support.

“Our decision to move residents out of Hedges House hasn’t been taken lightly. As part of our commitment to our customers, and to make the best use of the land and homes we own, we regularly review all of our buildings to make sure they meet the standards we expect.

“As part of this, we looked at the long-term sustainability of Hedges House, including things like investment and maintenance costs, occupancy levels, and any major works that are likely to be needed over the next few years. “Hedges House was found to be a scheme that’s no longer providing the quality of homes we expect for our customers and because of this, we’re in the process of working up new plans for it. We’ve kept our local authority partners updated throughout this process and key to our plans is building new affordable homes for the local community.

“Our plans will be available to comment on soon and we welcome all feedback from the local community to help inform and shape our final planning application.”

In this week’s Wiltshire Council Cabinet meeting, Cllr Muns added he wanted to see greater control amid the emotional distress moving residents results in.

He asked if the council could look into better protection for residents, and a clause that housing associations must wait for an exploration of any tenancy they have before any disposal of a site.

Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council, added that he even desired that all property owned by housing associations be put under council ownership.

He said: “I have made it clear to the Minister that I would like to see all housing associations property put back into council ownership. They’re all financed by debt anyway so it doesn’t matter who is sitting on the debt in my experience.”