West Dorset District Council is tackling affordable housing need in the countryside with the use of community land trusts (CLTs).
It currently has 10 of these schemes completed or in the planning stage. Community Land Trusts — including the latest at Powerstock, near Bridport — are affordable housing developments led by local people to house local people.
West Dorset District Council (WDDC) is urging more communities to come forward and take advantage of £1.2m of funding available as part of its Opening Doors housing programme — and as it marks the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week.
Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council (WDDC) Housing Portfolio Holder, said: “CLTs are powerful social enterprises, sourcing land that would not otherwise be available for housing either at highly discounted rates or in some instances for free.
“Driven by local residents with a passion for their communities, and providing much needed housing for people from the community, they make a valuable contribution to the vitality and cohesion of their rural settlements.
“Opening Doors aims to encourage the development of more good quality homes of a mixed tenure and there is no doubt that some of the strongest need is in our rural areas.”
The Powerstock CLT is due for completion in early 2019 when it will provide eight affordable rented homes for Powerstock families. It follows the Garmin’s Field CLT at Lyme Regis and others in such villages as Toller Porcorum, Marshwood and Buckland Newton.
Steve Watson, of Wessex CLT Project, which has helped communities launch schemes, commented: “As far as I am aware West Dorset has more CLTs than any other district in the country.
“That is no coincidence, the council has given incredible support to CLTs and has been for 10 years now.”
The Powerstock & District Community Land Trust Ltd has worked with the Wessex CLT Project, WDDC and Hastoe Housing Association on the scheme. Hastoe, which is a specialist rural housing association, has co-ordinated construction of the development and will manage the properties when complete although the CLT will retain the freehold.
The NHF Rural Housing Week is held to debate rural housing issues and celebrate innovative solutions to provide homes vital for the survival of countryside communities.
Supporting housing provision is one of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) four key aims. Opening Doors has been launched by West Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council with an overall aim of encouraging 20,000 more homes by 2033.