DEVIZES businessman Shahid Siddiq wants to turn a former pub in the centre of Devizes into eight apartments but has no plans to turn part of it into a mosque.

Mr Siddiq, who runs Devizes Textiles, applied for permission last year to turn two portable buildings in London Road into prayer rooms for Muslims in the town.

But withdrew the application after people complained about an increase of traffic and other road safety problems. An administrative error to the original design statement for the pub application caused further worries when it included turning an outbuilding into a place of worship.

It later turned out that this idea had been ruled out last year but was left in documents submitted to Wiltshire Council.

Mr Siddiq: "There are no plans at all for us to now include a meeting room for worship. We just want to turn the former pub into eight apartments. If we get planning permission I hope to start on the work later this year."

He said Muslims among his own workforce now use an office at Devizes Textiles for prayer and other Muslims in the town had found a temporary place for Friday prayers.

Originally the design and access statement submitted in February said: "This Statement is to support a detailed planning and listed building consent applications for the proposed conversion of a former public house into residential apartments and meeting room for religious worship."

But an almost identical document sent in on March 13 was amended to say it was to turn a former public house into residential apartments including the outbuilding at the back.

Mr Siddiq wants to put four apartments on the ground floor of the pub which dates back to the 18th century, turn the former toilets into another flat, put two flats on the first floor and an eighth on the second floor.

The report says that the building is no longer viable as a pub and an antiques business which moved in after the pub closed has also now left. It says: "In common with nationally changing cultural habits and economic patterns many former public houses and inns have become redundant and economically unviable.

"Continued commercial usage was initially considered but deemed unviable in the current and predicted future market and therefore the conversion of the principle building into residential accommodation was the only way of providing economic investment to maintain the fabric of the building to ensure its longevity.

"In addition to the economic realities providing residential accommodation within the historic town centre helps to promote a healthy vitality and balance to a mixed used area."