The developer and contractor, has been selected as preferred developer of Dorchester’s new town centre in Dorset.

Simons won the brief from West Dorset District Council ahead of three other contenders on the short list including Manchester-based modus, Centros Miller, and CTP St James. There were 17 bids originally for the 4 acre (1.61 ha) site in Charles Street which is being used as a 484 space car park.

The redevelopment will link to South Street and will provide a mix of around 120,000 sq ft (11,150 sq m) retail and restaurant use, around 80 flats including some affordable housing, and a bus interchange. There will be no loss of car parking at the site.

The site could be difficult to develop as archaeological investigations of the site have revealed Roman remains which will have to be preserved in-situ. The site is a designated Conservation Area.

Mark Lewis, development director at Simons, said: ‘We are not assuming that we will be able to anchor the scheme with a major department store. We are planning on a number of major store units that will allow us greater flexibility in leasing. Dorchester is under shopped and needs more retailing.’

Losing bidder Centros Miller owns the long leasehold of the Tudor Arcade, anchored by Waitrose, next door to the site.

Montagu Evans is planning consultant and Aukett Fitzroy Robinson is the architect.