COUNCILLORS have objected to plans which could see a former school site developed into retirement accommodation.

Bridport Town Council has raised concerns over proposals from housebuilder McCarthy and Stone which could see the former Mountjoy School on Flood Lane, Bridport, developed into retirement living accommodation.

Following a pre-application consultation with the community, the company has submitted plans to West Dorset District Council (WDDC) which include 42 one and two-bedroom apartments and 31 on-site car parking spaces.

The proposals went before Bridport Town Council’s planning committee on Monday, when questions were raised over the development’s suitability to the town.

Councillors raised concerns that no affordable element is included in the proposed development and requested an equivalent contribution to the affordable housing fund be sought.

Questions were also asked about the need for the development, with councillors saying it had not been properly demonstrated, given that other existing similar developments are not yet fully occupied.

They were also concerned the proposed development would not meet the needs of local residents and would lead to over-development of the site as the building is too high, at three storeys, and out-of-keeping with the surrounding area.

The result, according to the council, would have an ‘unacceptable adverse impact’ on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), of which the site is a part, and views of the AONB, the setting of nearby listed buildings and neighbouring properties.

McCarthy and Stone argues there is a considerable need, both locally and nationally, for accommodation for older people and says the scheme will contribute to the overall housing needs of Bridport.

The site, which is currently empty, was used by Mountjoy until 2012, when it relocated to new state-of-the-art premises in Beaminster.

Residents have previously claimed the site is an 'eyesore' and giving visitors a bad impression of Bridport.

Ahead of submitting a planning application, McCarthy and Stone offered individual meetings to local stakeholders and neighbours of the site and held a public exhibition to showcase its draft plans to the wider community.

Bridport Town Council says that, should WDDC approve the application, it requests contributions be sought for public transport and access links to and from the development.

Shane Paull, of McCarthy and Stone, said the company is disappointed with the objection.

He said: “We feel our plans will create a much-needed new retirement community on a brownfield site in a highly sustainable location. If approved, the proposal would deliver an affordable housing contribution of approximately £114,000 and also deliver a developer contribution of approximately £394,000 as part of the Community Infrastructure Levy.”