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Masterlist is key to new homes

A masterlist of affordable homes in north, south and west Dorset is being drafted to help more people on to the housing ladder.

Opening Doors – a council-led initiative – is aiming to compile the index, including shared ownership and Help to Buy properties.

North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council have joined forces for Opening Doors.

It aims to encourage the construction of 20,000 homes by 2033 and tackle the persistent undersupply of housing in the area, which is leading to a low provision of affordable housing and contributing to rising house prices.

The new inventory is the latest Opening Doors initiative and intends to draw together the different types of affordable properties.

These will include shared ownership, Rent to Buy, Help to Buy, community land trusts, co-housing, Discount to Open Market, social rented and properties designated as ‘affordable’ in new planning developments.

Opening Doors also has a Home Ownership Register for people who want to rent or buy rather than go on the list for social housing. It is also aimed at helping the council better understand the needs of communities to plan better for the future.

Other features have included successful preliminary bids for £8.4m of Housing Infrastructure Funds from the Government, £2m of support for locally-run community land trusts (CLTs) and the launch of brownfield and self-build registers.

The councils are keen to encourage more CLTs and self-builders to help communities become involved in the development process and welcome more housing.

Council officers have developed better working relationships with housing associations, developers, SMEs and land agents, while taking a more co-ordinated approach to housing delivery.

A new local housing company called Homes Dorset has also been launched and is due to begin trading formally in 2019.

It is aimed at boosting housing supply in the area to meet the needs of the community. While set up as a private limited company, it is council owned and will operate to the same standards in the community’s interest.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Housing portfolio holder and leader for North Dorset District Council, said: “The masterlist will draw together a list of developments and properties in one place to make it easier for people searching for a range of different types of affordable housing.”

Cllr Gill Taylor, housing briefholder for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said: “Although Opening Doors is still at an early stage it is already making a major contribution in encouraging more much-needed housing while also helping to explain just why it is needed.”

Cllr Tim Yarker, housing portfolio holder for West Dorset District Council, said: “Homes Dorset is just one example of the way Opening Doors is seeking to make a tangible difference to the local housing market.”

The councils have been basing their activities on an action plan drawn up after they gained Housing Business Ready status from the Housing Finance Institute (HFI).

Continued support for CLTs, the opening of trading by Homes Dorset, applications for more Government funding and work to encourage greater numbers of developers and housebuilders to progress schemes are among the measures lined up for Opening Doors in 2019 as part of its long-term vision for 2033.

The masterlist will be on this website when completed. Don’t forget to sign the Home Ownership Register too to find out about the last affordable and open market properties available.