Dorset’s ‘shocking’ housing statistics

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One in 34 houses are second homes, that’s three times the national average, says the Green Party’s Ken Huggins who proposes radical solutions.

When the new Local Plan for Dorset was put out for consultation last year, many people were dismayed by the number of new houses proposed to be built.
At 4,458 a year it represented a 47% increase on the existing Local Plan. Surprised by the unprecedented number of responses to the consultation, Dorset Council is now rethinking the matter.
Yes, we need new housing, but not so many. And most crucially we need genuinely affordable housing for low-income households and young families. Private developers are focused on building for open market sale, because prices are so high in Dorset. The general requirement for larger housing sites to provide 35% affordable housing does little good for those in need, because affordable is defined
as no more than 80% of open market prices or rents.

That still means prices out of reach for people on an average local income. The same applies to rental properties if they’re set at 80% of market rents.

Also, time and again we see developers agreeing to an ‘affordable’ housing quota when obtaining planning permission, but once construction begins they claim the development is no longer financially viable and so they apply to reduce the number of affordable houses to boost their profits.

A final shocking statistic is that here in Dorset one in 34 homes are second homes, empty for much or all of the time. That’s nearly three times the national average. It is unacceptable. The Green Party approach is as radical as the circumstances demand. Suitable sites should be compulsorily purchased by Dorset Council and made available to housing associations and Community Land Trusts to build social rented housing. This would be the equivalent of council housing that this country once excelled at before the disaster of right-to-buy with local authorities being unable to build replacement homes.

Ken Huggins, Parish Councillor Hazelbury Bryan

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