COUNCILLORS have slammed Wiltshire Council over its refusal to build homes in empty areas of towns and on vacant but already developed land and allowing them to be built on green spaces.

Wiltshire councillors Ernie Clark and Graham Payne believe that brownfield sites, previously used land which is now empty, in the county town should be used to stop its surrounding villages merging with Trowbridge.

They feel both Margaret Stancomb School, which has been empty for 10 years, and the Ashton Street Centre, unused for four years, could be knocked down and homes built there so fields at places like the Hilperton Gap, Southwick Court and off Drynham Lane can be left green.

When Cllr Clark asked the Western Area planning committee last week to consider the idea, it said it would not look at these areas for residential development.

“I cannot fathom why Wiltshire Council have taken this stance. It seems ridiculous that they are quite happy to encourage developers to use green spaces and surrounding villages but not look at the assets in the town centre,” he said.

“You have totally adequate sites in the middle of Trowbridge that can be used so that green spaces can be preserved.

“There needs to be more transparency as well. I had to ask the committee about this to get this information out of them.”

Cllr Payne added: “It is quite obvious, if you have these sites in the town it must reduce the overall numbers required. I reckon you could get 100 houses or so at Margaret Stancomb and Ashton Street.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the delivery of housing on brownfield land wherever possible. Approximately 35 per cent of development in the county will take place on brownfield land.”

"For instance, a consultation is currently underway on the redevelopment of the East Wing site in Trowbridge with the plans including residential opportunities.”

“Legislation introduced in April this year, Town and Country Planning Brownfield Land Register Regulations 2017, sets out the requirement for us as the Local Planning Authority to prepare, maintain and publish a Brownfield Land Register by 31 December 2017. The register will help identify where there may be opportunities to bring forward housing on brownfield sites.”