A SUSTAINABLE holiday development set to bring in hundreds of millions of pounds of investment to the local community is set to welcome its first residents in a matter of weeks.

The Habitat First Group says it is embarking on a "monumental year" as it prepares to open up the first phase of its 1,000-home development at Silverlake in Crossways.

With development having been underway for a year, the first arrivals are expected at Silverlake, which is being developed on the former Warmwell Quarry site, in April.

The completed scheme will cover a 650-acre estate and will feature a country club and spa as well as hundreds of holiday homes.

Habitat First will also be turning over large sections of the site to nature in a bid to protect hundreds of species of wildlife.

Work to support local species has already begun, with surveys carried out to identify the key areas of ecological importance for breeding birds, reptiles, dormouse, otter, water vole, invertebrates and bats.

The firm says that the scheme will be a "key economic driver for the future of the west Dorset economy" and the construction stage alone will generate an estimated £470million in investment over a 20 to 30 year period, more than half of which will be spent with local businesses.

It says 573 construction and sales jobs will be created, 286 of them with local firms. An extra 270 indirect jobs are also expected from visitor spend in the area.

As well as welcoming the first residents to Silverlake, Habitat First will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first development at Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds in 2017.

Red Paxton, owner of Habitat First Group, commented “2017 is shaping up to be a true milestone. We are transforming what was once a derelict site into a world-class conservation community.

"We consider ourselves as a property development with a conscience, one that places importance on the local community and environment.

"By the end of 2017 client would have over 40 houses built and our impressive spa will be fully operational.

"This is just the start for Silverlake, a project which will create a lasting legacy for the Dorset area."

For more information about the proposed development visit silverlakedorset.com