PLANS to sell two town centre car parks for housing have been labelled a joke by angry objectors.

Richmondshire District Council is proposing to sell Station Road Car Park and part of York Square Car Park in Richmond.

Officers say the council needs the money to fund its new £4m headquarters, in Colburn.

But community and business leaders have dismissed the plans as damaging to Richmond's economy.

Philip Wicks, chairman of Richmond Business and Tourism Association, said: "There is already not enough car parking spaces in the town and, consequently, the loss of existing parking spaces is a development we would not be in favour of.

"It would deter from Richmond as a tourist and business destination.

"While we understand the need for the council to fund its move to Colburn, it does not appear to have the long-term interests of the town at heart with the decisions it's making."

Richmond town and district councillor Stuart Parsons described the plans as an "intriguing joke".

"It feels like there's a deliberate plan to run down Richmond," he said.

"This is degeneration, rather than regeneration.

"How can we have a vibrant market town when all we seem to be getting are kicks and shoves in the wrong direction?"

Council officers say 17 flats with car parking could be built on York Square Car Park.

Space would be left for 17 public parking bays and a picnic area.

Officers say 24 houses and flats could be built on Station Road car park, which is currently used by council staff during office hours.

The fate of the car parks will be decided at a meeting of the council's resources committee next week.

Councillors will also be asked to formally approve the sale of the authority's five offices in Richmond and land in Gatherley Road, Brompton-on-Swale, all to fund the new headquarters.

The meeting will be held at 6.30pm, on Thursday, in Swale House, Richmond.