Plans for a £4.5m affordable housing development in Weymouth have been unveiled.

While the scheme for much-needed new homes for families has been welcomed, there is concern from the elderly residents of the 40-year-old sheltered housing complex it will replace.

Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) has submitted plans to build 31 houses and flats on the site of Marchesi House off Radipole Lane at Southill.

The plan has been mooted for a few years, and has left residents in the close-knit community uncertain about the future.

BCHA says it has been consulting with residents, neighbours, stakeholders and the local authority and has staged an exhibition of its plans.

It says residents will be offered a ‘home loss and disturbance payment’ and found suitable alternative housing.

The new development will consist of 13 one-bedroom flats in two blocks, 12 two-bedroom houses, six three-bedroom houses and 38 parking spaces.

If planning consent is granted by the borough council, work on the site is expected to start next summer.

Stacey Northover, BCHA Assistant Director of Housing, said: “Our £4.5 million investment will help address the area’s housing needs through this much-needed, quality development of affordable, rented and shared ownership homes.

“We listened carefully to views expressed during the extensive consultation process on issues such as parking, design and landscaping to ensure this development fits in well with the existing surroundings.

“We understand the sensitivity surrounding any new development and this mixed scheme of single, family affordable rented housing, as well as shared ownership options will ensure a positive impact into the community.”

“Our current residents are being kept informed throughout this process with regular updates and explanatory one-to-one meetings about the process. Their future housing preferences are of utmost importance.”

The development scheme for Marchesi House was originally announced in 2016 but stalled until this year.

Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Gill Taylor said: “The most important people in this are the ones living in the building. The accommodation isn’t as modern or as up to date as it needs to be.

“There will be worries about being rehomed. But if they want to come back to the site when it’s redeveloped that will also be an option. We will be working with the housing association to make sure residents find somewhere they’re happy. If they want to move as a group that also may be a possibility depending on what housing is available.”

According to the National Housing Federation, 775 homes need to be built in Weymouth and Portland and west Dorset every year to keep up with demand.

Cllr Taylor said the redevelopment will help the council meet its targets. She added: “The scheme is good, we need affordable housing in Weymouth. It’s a great site for general purpose housing - it’s close to shops and amenities.

Residents of Marchesi House claim they haven’t been properly informed about the scheme.

Stephen Hairsine said: “Everyone has had to put their plans on hold because we haven’t been kept informed.

“I want to move to Dorchester but haven’t been able to for two years.”

He said there hasn’t been enough discussions with residents and claims BCHA have been putting notices onto the noticeboard and letters underneath doors, without properly talking with residents.

Meanwhile, another resident said: “At 87-years-old I don’t want to be moving. I’ve been here 18 years. All my friends are here.”

But Brian Whitehead, a resident of Marchesi House, said: “I have seen the plans which have been proposed and I think it looks better than the current building.”

He said he’s quite confident he will find suitable accommodation after the redevelopment and added: “They have taken note of where I want to go.”