PLANS to knock down garages in Chepstow have been put on hold after concerns were voiced the work would be “potentially putting lives at risk ” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Demolition of the empty garages off Western Avenue was scheduled to start on Tuesday, April 7.

The garage site, owned by Monmouthshire Housing Association (MHA), is being replaced with eight houses for social rent.

Despite instructions around social distancing, on Thursday morning although Capsel, a subsidiary of Monmouthshire Housing Association, said the work was still due to go ahead.

An email from Peter Thomas, new business director at Capsel, said: “The current COVID-19 situation has been considered and discussed with both MHA and the contractor, precautions and hygiene measures will be put in place to ensure that the risk of infection is minimised.

“There is no reason for any of the residents to have contact with the demolition site so we do not foresee any risk to the occupants of properties adjacent to the site.”

But Chepstow councillor Armand Watts said he was “deeply concerned” over the association “pushing ahead” with work during the coronavirus lockdown and wrote to the company urging it to “put a stop to this and prevent potentially putting lives at risk.”

And on Thursday afternoon MHA confirmed the work has been put on hold.

John Keegan, chief executive of the association, said: “The current proposals were only to demolish the existing garages for reasons of health and safety and to reduce any potential anti-social behaviour on the site.

“Government guidance is that construction/demolition can continue as long as social distancing can be demonstrated.

“MHA, as you would expect, keep this under constant review and updates from contractors on current work practices.

“In this instance the senior management team of MHA had made the decision to put the demolition on hold and ensure the site is made safe.

“It will now not be proceeding next week as originally planned and we will continue to monitor government advice on all activities relating to construction, repairs and maintenance.”

Mr Keegan also said that building work on the new homes is not intended to take place “at any time in the near future.”

“It will be some months before the new construction can commence and this will be subject to the Covid-19 situation improving,” he added.