Massive housing growth – but a failure to meet affordable home targets are outlined in a review of the Local Plan which will guide development in Weymouth, Portland and West Dorset until 2036.
The plan review, being put to councillors next week, says there will also be a need to find up to 15,000 new jobs in the area.
If the housing targets are achieved it could mean having to build almost 800 homes a year with one projection putting the global figure for the area at more than 19,000 new homes by the end of the plan period.
To achieve the target a new extension to Dorchester could be build to the north, beyond the water meadows, with more homes in neighbouring Charminster. There would also be large scale developments around Littlemoor and in Weymouth at Southill and Markham and Little Francis.
Bridport and Crossways would also have to help meet the development target with several sites identified around both towns, together with others around Chickerell and Sherborne.
District and borough councillors are being told that without the revised plan and a five-year supply of housing land, which the area is currently short of, it becomes increasingly difficult to reject speculative housing developments.
There is also an admission that not enough affordable homes are likely to be built: “The total projected need for affordable housing is not expected to be met in the plan review,” admits the report authors.
The document will be first discussed by West Dorset district councillors next Tuesday, June 12th.
A ‘preferred options’ document will be published for public consultation in mid August, with a consultation period lasting for eight weeks, concluding in October. A series of public exhibitions will also be held as part of the consultation exercise.
The document says that with a high percentage of the area enjoying legal protection from development and with good quality farming land needed for food production the scope for finding suitable building sites can be challenging.
Yet the area suffers from one of the highest differences in the country between average wages and average house price, pricing even families on better than average local wages, out of the market.
In September 2017 there were more than 3,000 people on the housing register – shared almost equally between Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset.
In a ‘vision’ statement the report says: “In 20 years time, we want to be proud of the area in which we live. We want more and better paid jobs, more affordable homes, improved access to public transport and a network of community facilities that enable all ages and abilities to contribute to their community enabling a real sense of belonging and engagement.
“We wish to see significant investment and regeneration providing infrastructure to encourage businesses across the area to start and grow.”