AN affordable cohousing scheme is being recommended for approval.

An application for 28 homes in Mead Lane, Bridport, for a site adjacent to the Community Hospital has attracted almost 50 letters of support. It is being put forward by Bridport Cohousing and will include nine self-build plots and land for allotments in what is phase two of its project.

Although the site is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), planning officers are recommending approval of the development of houses and flats next to the first phase of the cohousing scheme which saw 34 custom built houses and flats agreed in June 2016, with an amended plan approved in January 2017, although work has not yet started.

The new application is for one four-bed house; six three-bed, six two-bed and six one-bed flats with space for nine further self-build homes. It will be considered at the local planning committee on November 15.

West Dorset District Council officers say the cohousing project is a 'community benefit society and was formed by residents of Bridport to design and deliver housing to suit their needs. It defines cohousing as an affordable, sustainable, mutually supportive community for local people. It is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighbourhood. It consists of individual homes alongside some shared facilities including dining space, activity space, kitchen, laundry facilities and a children’s play room.'

The site will include shared growing spaces between the terraced homes with residents running a car club to encourage households not to have more than one vehicle each.

Backing for the project has come from the local Design Review Panel. Their report states: 'We applaud the aim to design and deliver affordable, sustainable and neighbourly housing for those in housing need.

'We warmed to the uncomplicated contemporary architecture and are happy with this and the materials proposed. We like the way the scheme draws on Bridport to which it will be well related. The terraces are compact, legible and efficient and work well with the topography, indeed it will help neighbourliness for people to meet each other on a level.'

No objections to the application have been made by the Environment Agency, Natural England, Wessex Water or the Highways, although Allington Parish Council say they strongly object to further development in the area.

'Further development will affect the highways of Meadfields, Cherry Tree and Hospital Lane, more traffic due to more houses will affect the general traffic greatly. Visibility issues, speed issues. We do not believe that the Bridport Cohousing contract of only having one vehicle per household will either be enforceable or upheld which will then impact on the neighbouring estates. There are also big concerns with regards to flooding and drainage. The current sewers/drains cannot cope with the current levels, without adding further housing developments. Any further houses on this land is simply gross over-development of the site,' it said.

Bridport Town Council has raised no objection, with 48 people writing to support the scheme.

Their comments praise what they describe as an innovative solution for affordable and sustainable housing which some say will promote ecological and healthy lifestyles.

In recommending approval, planning officers admit the site will have an effect on the landscape but believe this to be relatively minor.

'It is considered that the current proposal would only have a notable visual impact on Allington Hill, from where it would be seen as infill between the consented phase 1 and the hospital building which reduces the potential significance in this effect. Therefore, with the highest part of the site being left open and undeveloped, as in phase 1 the impact on the AONB is not considered to be serious enough to warrant a refusal on this basis,' the report states.

They say with 1,600 households in the district registered in affordable housing need, with 414 of them having a Bridport connection, the site will make a real contribution to helping meet local demand.

The officers’ report says any effect on local roads would be minor.

'Given the location of the site there would be no direct impact from the new dwellings on any existing neighbouring properties,' it states. 'There could be indirect impacts from the increased traffic and movement along Hospital Lane. However, any increase is not considered to have a significant detrimental impact on the amenities of occupiers of nearby properties.'