An innovative cohousing scheme will bring more than 50 homes to Bridport this year, it is hoped.

Bridport Cohousing is optimistic work to build a neighbourhood of 53 affordable 'eco houses' at a site in North Allington, next to Bridport Community Hospital, will start soon.

The site, called Hazelmead, will offer a mixture of homes - bought in a shared ownership at 80 per cent of open market value - of mainly two and three-bed, but also including one-bed flats.

The plans are nine years in the making and the neighbourhood has been designed by its members to provide a more environmentally-sensitive approach to living on a modern housing development, according to the group.

Once built, it will be the biggest cohousing scheme in the country, says cohousing member Lin Scrannage.

"We're already being approached by lots of young families," said Mrs Scrannage. "We are hopeful for this year and have never been closer. It will be brilliant for the town."

The groups says it is aware many locals might not have heard of cohousing before, and so a 'discovery day' will take place on Saturday which will be live-streamed online.

Guest speakers will include Alan Heeks, who was instrumental in starting the scheme in 2008. He was involved in setting up the Threshold Centre, another cohousing community based in Gillingham, and is a successful writer and social entrepreneur and the founder of the Wessex Foundation, an educational charity and 132-acre organic farm set on the Dorset/Somerset border.

Maria Brenton, board member of UK Cohousing Trust, will travel from London to present her ideas about what makes cohousing different and why is it relevant today.

There will be a selection of short films and an opportunity to hear more about the Bridport project from a panel of members and the professional advisor to the group.

A spokesman for Bridport Cohousing said:"We hope the day will open up more awareness in the town about what a great opportunity this will be for many local people who have been struggling to find a deposit on a house, or are finding it increasingly difficult to get good rented accommodation.

"We also hope to blow away some of the myths that have sprung up around cohousing and inspire people to look with fresh eyes at what living in a neighbourhood with people who share your own views on sustainable and mutually supportive living might be like."

To watch the live-stream discovery day, between 11am and 4pm on Saturday, search 'Bridport Cohousing' on Facebook.