After 11 years in the making, building work is finally set to start on a new community-led affordable housing project.

Members of Bridport Cohousing have been ‘popping champagne corks’ celebrating the news that it’s all systems go for the development.

With the support of Dorset Council, Homes England and their partner housing association, Bournemouth Churches, the community group has finally overcome the many obstacles contributing to the delay and have signed contracts and agreements.

CG Fry have won the bid to build the 53 homes on the seven-acre site next to Bridport Community Hospital and infrastructure work will begin in the coming weeks.

The one-bedroom flats and terraces of two, three and four-bedroom homes will all have solar panels on the roofs.

Bridport Cohousing will be the largest cohousing community in the UK so far and the houses will be kept affordable and the homes will not be bought as investments or second homes.

Although the project has taken more than 10 years, the group see it as a real benefit for people moving into the new homes to get to know other. Bridport Cohousing has held regular ‘meet the neighbours’ events.

A spokesman for Bridport Cohousing said: “Affordability has been a major driver for Bridport Cohousing, members being acutely aware how difficult it is for locals to be able to afford to live and work in the town, with private rents and house prices being continually driven higher by an influx of second homeowners and the appeal of Bridport and the south coast to wealthy retirees.

“The group has been fortunate in being able to capture a significant grant from the Government to build a proportion of the shared ownership homes for as little as 25 per cent of market value and for all the rental properties to be offered as social rent of 60 per cent through the housing association partner.

“As well as affordability, Bridport Cohousing’s other core value has to do with sustainable living and how we can change our lifestyle in the face of climate breakdown. By living in proximity to neighbours who share similar values, there can be fun and creativity in finding solutions to the global crisis.

“There are other factors in this forward-thinking project that also help to make the homes more affordable, such as having a car share scheme on site, which could enable a two car family to halve their ownership. Setting up a food co-op and bulk buying will cut food bills and community vegetable and fruit gardening will provide fresh organic produce for the cost of a few packets of seeds.”

The main difference between cohousing and other housing developments is that residents have a common house, which provides a community space for eating together, activities and social events.

The spokesman added: “While homes are private, the common house and surrounding land is shared - this will provide the basis for an ‘old fashioned neighbourhood’ - something that is very much needed by many people in the western world today.

“Streets will be free of cars, enabling a safe place for children to play and all residents will sign up to doing a few hours of voluntary work per week to keep the costs of running the site down to a minimum.”

Residents moving in to the homes have said they are looking forward to having lower energy bills and be part of a neighbourhood that ‘embraces low impact living and creating a space where they aim to take car of each other and the land they live on’.

George Gotts, who will be resident of the development, said: “The cohousing project has given me and my family a tangible sense of hope for a sustainable future in Bridport, the town we live in, work and raise our family.

“I have found the community warm, welcoming and respectful of all our varying needs and desires for the future. I look forward to my children having both freedom and a voice in the way they live and to find a supportive and actively engaging home which we all invest ourselves in.”

Over the years, the project has gained support from the town council, Dorset Council and local community and Bridport Cohousing is deeply grateful to the work done by Alan Heeks in getting the project started.

The spokesman said: “Members can now breathe a sigh of relief that the waiting is finally over and that the homes will be built.

“The group is already attracting a lot of interest from national bodies who are interested to see how the model will work to benefit the health and wellbeing of its residents and what positive impact will be created within the town of Bridport and its neighbouring parishes.”

For more information about the project, visit bridportcohousing,