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  • West Dorset District Council has launched a new housing company.
  • Its been given £4M of funding from the council’s reserves.
  • The Local Authority Trading Company will acquire sites and fund development.
  • Its all aimed at tackling the housing shortage in Dorset.

Councillors have backed plans to help tackle housing shortages in West Dorset by building a mix of new homes.

These will include open market sale, shared ownership sale, open market rent and affordable/social for rent.

Members of West Dorset District Council’s strategy committee approved a recommendation to set up a Local Authority Trading Company with initial funding of £4m from council reserves.

This funding will be used to operate the business, acquire sites and fund development.

The move is part of the council’s Opening Doors campaign to meet housing need at a local level when faced with a lower number of active developers that can typically be found in larger urban areas.

It comes 25 years after the district council transferred its housing stock to the then West Dorset Housing Association in 1993.

That organisation has since become Magna Housing. The council recognises that local housing associations do a great service but the area still needs more housing provision with 1,572 people on the council’s Housing Register.

The new company will:

  • target areas of need that are not currently being served by the locally based developers 
  • Work with community land trusts to deliver smaller sites
  • Acquire new land as well as developing the council’s own
  • Acquire sites that have been granted planning consent for housing but not brought forward 
  • Work with other developers and housing associations where its involvement can unlock development that would otherwise have not taken place

Councillor Tim Yarker said: “We are determined to do everything in our power at a local level to tackle housing shortages.

“More good quality homes of all tenures are absolutely vital for the future of our communities and strength of our local economy.

“A Local Authority Trading Company will give us a degree of greater control over the tenure and location of housing developments whilst also offering significant potential to help ameliorate housing shortages.

“In addition to increasing the supply of housing locally, receipts from the sale of properties and rents would create revenue streams that in the longer term could be reinvested in further housing provision.”

Cllr Yarker added: “Opening Doors is about the council being proactive to tackle housing problems.

“We are one of a number of councils nationwide taking such an innovative approach and establishing a Local Authority Trading Company could be one of the most important steps we take.”

The council aims to develop the homes using local labour which could help create more jobs and a boost for the local economy.

Opening Doors aims to encourage the construction of a total of 20,000 good quality homes of all tenures by 2033 across the areas covered by West Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council and West Dorset District Council.

The councils have also launched a Home Ownership Register to gauge need for different types of homes and in what areas, and feed information to prospective buyers.

Source: WessexFM

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