TOWN councillors in Dorchester have welcomed plans to develop a town centre eyesore site for housing.

The town’s former gas works in Icen Way could be used for 17 flats in two blocks.

Although welcoming the proposals the town council planning committee, meeting online, have asked for a number of changes to be considered.

These include keeping the face of the former building with its distinctive window, having some affordable housing, maintaining the Icen Way wall; planting more ‘greenery’ on the site and trying to improve the natural lighting for two of the homes.

Cllr Stella Jones, who came up with the list of changes, said the developers should also ensure archaeology was given proper consideration as the site is on the edge of the old Roman town.

Town councillors heard that the developers have argued that the scheme would not be viable for affordable housing because of the cost of dealing with any possible contamination in the ground.

“I know it’s a brownfield site but they should try and get some affordable housing on the site,” said Cllr Jones.

Developers, Kewmark Ltd are proposing 15 two-bed flats and 2 one-bed flats on the site, all for sale on the open market, together with space for cars, bins and bicycles.

Their plans say the existing building on the roadside would be demolished with a new building on the same footprint for four flats, with a second three-storey building set back on the site for the remaining 13 properties.

Parking would be provided for 17 cars with enough room for 20 bicycles.

There is an historical reference to the town gas works being in the area in 1835. The site lies within the town conservation area and within the limits of the old Roman town although there are no listed buildings on the plot.

Adjoining buildings, to the rear of the site, which are not part of the application, are currently used by a local business and will remain. They were also previously part of the gas works site.

Cllr Gareth Jones said he would welcome the old building being protected, if possible, and also emphasised the need for a proper archaeological investigation.

Cllr Susie Hosford warned that if the old building was to be retained the extra costs might further reduce the chances of any affordable homes.