Chippenham firm Good Energy’s decision to pull out of its planned new offices in the town has left local people angry at what they see as an unwanted and ugly car park on Sadlers Mead.

Building work continues on the £7m five-floor multi-storey car park, which when it was approved in March 2019 was described as a missed opportunity to solve the town’s parking issues.

The car park was meant to accompany a new HQ for the energy company, in a joint project with Wiltshire Council.

Now Good Energy say home working during Covid-19 will continue, and it does not need the offices. The firm will stay in the Monkton Park council building, renting another floor of space, repaying the council the costs of design work done so far.

While Wiltshire Council say it hopes to have the 243-space car park open early next year, asked about the offices a spokesman said: “We’re working with SWLEP to find another important employment use for a site.”

Leader of Wiltshire Council, Cllr Philip Whitehead said: “Of course, we’re disappointed that Good Energy has chosen not to progress with this scheme, but we’re pleased that the company is committed to keeping jobs in Chippenham.”

Several Chippenham residents and councillors have voiced their outrage about the project.

Resident Andrew Stevenson said

: “They effectively forced through the building of this unwanted car park, as part of a scheme to build Good Energy an office block, dismissing more suitable alternatives and ignoring people’s legitimate objections, including those of Chippenham’s own Town Council.”

Cllr Peter Bishop said he was astounded when the permission was granted, adding: “The car park is a visual monstrosity located in a residential street towering above a chalet bungalow, and historic parkland.

“In my opinion, this development was broadly dishonest from the outset.”

Chris Caswill, chair of the Friends of Monkton Park said:“Good Energy’s involvement and name of the application was clearly part of the package that was promoted and sold to the planning committee and indeed the public.”

Cllr Bill Douglas said that the development is a ‘blot on the skyline’.

Cllr Nick Murry said: “Local people are furious about this and rightly so.

“They were told that Chippenham had to accept this unwanted car park as part of a bigger scheme funded by the private sector.

“Good Energy has pulled out, leaving Wiltshire Council to foot the bill and the rest of us with a multi-storey eyesore next to our much-loved park.

“Worse still, we have ended up without any additional parking on the north side of the station, which the DfT funding – part spent on the carpark – was intended for.”

“Plus more traffic on Station Hill, and the loss of town centre housing and local jobs being created by the redevelopment of the old college site, abandoned because of the multi-storey.”

Fran Woodward, people and customer operations director, Good Energy said: "While this wasn't an easy decision for us to make, as the UK faces economic uncertainty following Covid-19, we need to ensure we're making the right investments for our future.

“Our entire workforce has been working from home effectively and productively. In this context, as a business that takes its environmental impact extremely seriously we have had to rethink our office workspace and how we can take a more digital and less carbon intensive approach going forward, which will involve more remote and flexible working.

"We thank the team at Wiltshire Council for the support and understanding they have shown."