Retirement home builders McCarthy & Stone may have to pay a six-figure sum in lieu of having affordable homes on its London Road, Dorchester, site.

The company want to build 44 retirement apartments on the site of the former Watson Petroleum Depot and say they would be unable to offer the standard 35 per cent of ‘affordable’ homes on the site.

Planning committee members are being asked to only approve the scheme if the company signs a legal agreement as its ‘affordable’ homes contribution.

The report says that the company’s Community Infrastructure Levy charge for the development could be almost £393,000.

Local campaigners, including the Labour Party and Dorchester Town Council, have fought to have the entire site given over to affordable properties for local, young people.

Other objections to the site have included claims that the proposed 29 car parking spaces, including just one for people with mobility problems, is not enough. Other comments include the design of the buildings which some say is too large and indistinct as well as being out of character with the area.

But comments in favour say it is a good use for a brownfield site and will free up family homes in the area. The town Civic Society has welcomed design changes made following comments about the original proposal.

In a report to the planning committee on February 14 the local housing enabling officer says: "There is a significant need for affordable housing in West Dorset which this development would assist in meeting. As Dorchester has recently seen high levels of new sheltered housing accommodation it would be acceptable for the developer to provide a financial contribution from this scheme which would enable the provision of affordable housing off-site.”

The idea has been adopted in the recommendation to the committee.