PLANS for two discount supermarkets in Royal Wootton Bassett could ‘destroy the high street’, according to a former mayor.

Aldi and a Lidl both want to develop new stores on the outskirts of town.

But while there is support for Aldi, Lidl’s, which has already been rejected twice and includes 320 homes, has provoked controversy.

There are already seven empty shops in the centre of the town and there are fears that if both stores are approved then this will only get worse.

Former town mayor Chris Wannell, who represented the parish and spoke on behalf of residents at a Wiltshire Council meeting, said: “Two supermarkets will destroy the high street which is the heart of this place.

“The community here want an Aldi and the location makes sense. We don’t want Lidl and the Marsh Farm development that comes with 320 dwellings.

“If they’re allowed to build on this site then that won’t only eliminate the natural boundary of the town, but it will set a precedent for future development.”

He added: “We don’t want the link between us and Swindon. We have our own identity.”

Janet Georgiou, chair of planning for Wootton Bassett Town Council, said: “The application submitted to have a Lidl and the extras that come with it is the wrong place for the development.

“We have already gone above and beyond and overbuilt, more than filling our quota for the government.

“It is essential that the proposed space they want to build on remains a green space.”

She said that if the appeal is granted that will wipe out the separation and distinctiveness of the town as it will be merged with Lydiard Tregoze, the nearest village.

The Aldi application for a change of use at the Grange Landrover dealership on Coped Hall Business Park was meant to have been decided by February 2018, but it was deferred with the planning officer wanting to see requirements sorted before the next meeting in October. The concerns related to access and traffic.

Locals from Royal Wootton Bassett are in favour of having the application granted.

The town council and neighbourhood plan are all in unison against the proposal of the location where Leda Properties and Lidl want to build sheltered homes, a community hub and a store.

The public inquiry into the Lidl bid starts on September 18 at 10am at the Wiltshire Council offices in Monkton Park, Chippenham.