Chippenham solicitor Andrew Watts-Jones has slammed Wiltshire Council after old fashioned lamp posts were ripped up in a conservation area and replaced with “awful” modern poles.

Mr Watts-Jones was disgusted to find workmen tearing down the wrought iron lamp posts in St Mary’s Street on Friday night, before putting up silver metal stands to replace them.

The 46-year-old criminal case solicitor said: “I am really annoyed about this because they are beautiful old lamp posts and the new ones are awful.

“The High Street used to be lovely before all the shop fronts, and this is a pretty street in a town that does not have many of them.”

Mr Watts-Jones, who works at Richard Griffiths and Co in St Mary’s Street, was on his way to the office when he came across the change.

“I saw this man, who had just finished cementing one of the lamp posts,” he said.

“I had a chat with him and he gave me the impression that there was some sort of safety reason for putting up the new lamp posts, but I think they should still have to go through planning procedures like everyone else.

“They then went up the street and started ripping down the other lamp posts.”

St Mary’s Street is in a conservation area, and was described by poet laureate John Betjemen as the most beautiful street in England.

Chairman of the Chippenham Civic Society Owen Pennell shares Mr Watts-Jones’ concerns about the new lamp posts, one of which stands opposite the medieval Dutch Cottage tea rooms.

He said: “This is the most significant conservation area in Chippenham and if the lamp posts are out of keeping with the character of the street that would be horrendous.

“I, and the rest of the Civic Society, would be very concerned about any equipment like that which is not in keeping with the rest of the street.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said the columns were replaced because they were cracked.

“The posts will be painted black and the old lanterns will be put back up so they are in keeping with the other lamp posts.”