NEW homes should be built in empty town buildings and on already-developed land, a Trowbridge man has said, as open fields near his house and around the town remain under threat from planners.

Steve Wylie, of Church Lane, says it is ‘irresponsible’ to build on green fields when there are sites like Bowyers, the old library, and empty shops in the town centre.

Wiltshire Council suggested in a plan revealed last month that 225 new homes could be built in fields near Southwick, and 45 of them beside Church Lane.

Mr Wylie said: “Yes, the country needs more housing – but mostly one and two-bed affordable units for first-time buyers and for older people to downsize. Such housing is best located in town centres for easy access to the shops, leisure facilities and transport links. Ripping up our green fields to build ‘country piles’ each costing half a million pounds does nothing to meet the real housing need.”

Clerk to Trowbridge Town Council, Lance Allan, said: “The council is keen to see more homes in the town centre and is happy to support surrounding villages with their neighbourhood plans. We are expecting, and are supportive of, residential building at places like the former Bowyers site and Virgin call centre, which have been empty for a number of years.

“With regards to empty shops it’s up to individual landlords whether they want to convert them to housing.”

Wiltshire Council said that fewer than 20 of Trowbridge’s total 358 retail units were currently on the market.

In response to Mr Wylie’s suggestions, a Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We actively encourage developers to use brownfield sites in line with government and local policies. This is particularly important in town centres, such as Trowbridge, where the regeneration of these sites ensures the town continues to have a thriving economy.“The Wiltshire Core Strategy 2016 – 2026 has a commitment to reuse as much land as possible to limit pressure on greenfield land. This anticipates around 35 per cent (2,000 new homes) of all development across Wiltshire will be built on previously developed (brownfield) land.”