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An independent report for Dorset CPRE shows that the Dorset Council and BCP Council could be forced to plan for ‘excessive’ numbers of new housing, the group says.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England  says this in turn could lead to a ‘developer-led free for all’.

The report states that :

  • The local Housing Needs figure, using 2014 projections, is 47% higher than the existing Local Plans in Dorset
  • There does not appear to be a need to increase housing numbers to meet local need
  • The report proposes that the local authorities should be prepared to challenge the Government’s Standard Method based on outdated and flawed population and household projections.
  • Local authorities should encourage the development of suitable housing for younger households.
  • Dorset CPRE supports a locally led democratic planning system rather than deregulated proposals.

The Government’s Standard Method for assessing local housing need produces a figure of 4,458 dwellings per annum for Dorset, which is 47% higher than the 3,030 new houses required by the existing Local Plans and nearly 100% higher than recent rates of housing delivery. Where will they go, asks the CPRE.

The number of new homes provided in the period 2011-18 were sufficient to meet the on-going housing needs. ‘So why is a higher rate of housing need now projected? Why threaten our Green Spaces and valued Dorset countryside?’ says the CPRE in a statement.

Part of the answer, suggests this study, is that the household projections which underpin the housing needs calculations are out of date. They are based on 2014 projections rather than the 2016 household projections published by ONS, which suggest lower housing needs. The 2018 based projections released in July show even lower projections and a lower level of need.

Peter Bowyer, Dorset CPRE Chair of Trustees, said: ‘Building excessive housing can only be at the expense of our very special environment and our communities. Our environment is Dorset’s greatest economic asset. Our communities need appropriate homes to meet local need, including truly affordable homes for young families whom we need to keep and attract to work here and so help grow Dorset’s economy.

‘It is in everyone’s interests that the housing numbers in local plans reflect local needs. Plans that are based on excessive and unrealistic projections can lead to proposed developments not being delivered, and also to land not being brought forward and hence the 5 year land supply not being met. The Local Plan and associated Neighbourhood Plans could then fail and result in a developer-led free for all.’

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