Allowing a dilapidated former school to be turned into retirement accommodation would be 'irresponsible' without prioritising local need first.

That's how councillors felt when they met to discuss amended plans from developer McCarthy and Stone for the former Mountjoy School site on Flood Lane, Bridport.

Bridport Town Council's planning committee met last week, when representatives from McCarthy and Stone also attended to explain the plans further.

The developer wants to build 38 one and two-bed retirement apartments on the site, which is currently owned by Dorset Council, and told the committee it would be a 'very picturesque building and gateway to Bridport.'

But councillors raised concerns over the use of the brownfield site for retirement living when, they stressed, there is a lack of affordable housing for young people and families in Bridport.

They questioned the affordable element of the development, but the company's representatives said they were only able to answer questions about its architecture and design.

Cllr Sarah Carney said: "This is our land - it's council-owned brownfield land - and we need affordable housing and desperately need social housing. It would be irresponsible to let it go without prioritising local need. There is a really good opportunity to do something different and innovative with that site."

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

It has been labelled an 'eyesore' by some, with one resident claiming it is giving visitors a bad impression of Bridport.

Bridport Town Council has objected to the plans since it discussed them in December 2018, when the company submitted proposals for 42 one and two-bed retirement apartments. Concerns were raised about affordability, local need and whether or not the development would fit in with the surrounding area.

The scale of the site was later reduced to 38 apartments with communal facilities and car parking. McCarthy and Stone also offered a contribution of £295,111 for affordable housing.

At last week's meeting, this amount was called into question, with Cllr Julian Jones saying the figure should be much higher. But McCarthy and Stone's representatives said the offer was based on a Dorset Council formula.

The town council objected to the plans.