Barratt Southern Counties Ltd has applied for permission to redevelop the former Rose Farm Dairy site off Fleet Road.

The Guildford-based developer wants to build 61 apartments and four shops on the site.

Plans include 56 two-bedroom and five one-bedroom flats in a landscaped courtyard.

Sixteen of the units will be for social housing — likely to be housing association for rental or part ownership — in two storeys over the new shops fronting Fleet Road.

The rest will be open-market flats in a three-storey terraced spine block running in an L-shape in the centre of the site.

They will have separate kitchens, double second bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms.

All will have either a balcony or ground floor patio area.

There will be 56 parking spaces at ground level, including 27 in a semi-basement car park. Seven spaces will be reserved for visitors.

A design statement drawn up for Barratt by Chiswick-based Acanthus Lawrence and Wrightson Architects said the site is ideal for residential development because it is close to the town centre shops and has good access to public transport.

"We believe that the scheme will provide good and appropriate residential accommodation, together with improved retail facilities, and will be an attractive addition to this part of Fleet town centre," adds the design statement.

The former Rose Farm Dairy buildings, which have been vacant for several years and are currently being used for cold store food distribution, would be demolished to make way for the new housing scheme.

The shops which front Fleet Road will also be knocked down and replaced with new ones with flats above.

A planning statement produced by the Development Planning Partnership, of Bedford, states: "The site is in a highly accessible location within easy reach of a wide range of retail, leisure, employment and community facilities, as well as having ready access to bus and rail services.

"The nature of the development is not intended to attract families and will instead be occupied by single people or couples seeking the benefits of urban living and access to public transport."

Hart Council planning officials are considering the scheme and have asked Barratt for a contribution totalling £106,750 towards cycle and pedestrian improvements in the area.

But Barratt has branded the contribution unreasonable and unjustifiable because it does not think improvements are needed.

The application will go before a meeting of Hart's development control committee.