Housing Needs

Many people, particularly younger people locally, may think the only way to get their own place to live is to allow this North Dorchester development to go ahead in the hope it will include some “affordable” houses/flats to buy, to rent or to part buy and rent (shared equity).

STAND fully appreciates the need for truly affordable housing but much recent, bitter experience has shown that many of the promises made by developers are not delivered and, in addition, the record of Dorset Council in insisting on a proper percentage of affordable units (30%+) in all large developments is lamentable.

Here’s the recent record:

Stratton House and former WDDC offices and car park (formerly publicly owned.)
Sold privately – developer allowed to divide up site so that each part of the development was of a small enough number of units to avoiding triggering the requirement to provide any “affordable” units!

Dorchester Prison (formerly publicly owned).
5 acres in the heart of town – sold privately for £2.5million – NO affordable units – Reason: Viability.
City and Country argued that the extra cost of converting the Victorian Prison buildings into apartments meant that the scheme would not have made sufficient profit to allow for any affordable units to be included in the scheme. NB The Victorian prison buildings were NOT listed and could have been demolished. The site has remained empty for five years but is currently on the market for around £10million !

McArthy and Stone Retirement Home
85 apartments on London Road – NO affordable units on the site – contribution of £300,000 from the developer towards the building of (4?) affordable units somewhere else!

The Old Gasworks
17 units in Icen Way – NO affordable units – Reason: the extra costs involved in development due to “contamination of the site”!

Over the past few years our local authorities, excluding the Town Council, have sold off land and buildings to private developers who have not seen it either fit, or profitable, to provide affordable units thereby exacerbating the problem. The Barracks (formerly publically owned) behind the Keep Museum is a classic example of this short-term thinking and it looks as though Princes House (currently publicly owned) in Princes Street will be the next to be lost.

The North Dorchester developers will make many promises but will they deliver on their promises and can we trust Dorset Council to insist on the 30+% of affordable units within the proposed total of 4000 houses ? We’ve been hoodwinked before and could be again.

The latest figures (24th June 2020) for the number of local people (families, couples and individuals) looking for somewhere to live and listed on Dorset Council’s Housing Register confirm the scale and urgency of this issue:

West Dorset: 1994
Weymouth and Portland: 1813
North Dorset: 1131
East Dorset: 613
Purbeck: 466

TOTAL: 6017

STAND is NOT claiming there is no need for more housing in Dorset, BUT it is saying that providing for local proven need is far more important than meeting the concocted government “target” figures which simply feed the greed of the landowners and developers and encourage buyers from beyond Dorset to purchase expensive houses which, for some, are second homes.

CPRE Report – Dorset Housing Needs Evidence 2020

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