More than 20,000 new homes could be built in western Dorset over the next 16 years.

That’s the target set by Opening Doors, and joint initiative by North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

To reach the 20,000 target, as set out in the Western Dorset Economic Growth Strategy, an average of around 1,176 homes will need to be built every year across the three council areas in total during the period from 2016 to 2033.

That’s a 60% increase on the annual average of 737 new homes built over the past five years. Opening Doors will encourage intervention at local level to boost the development of more quality homes of all types – including affordable, open market, privately rented and social housing.

The councils will also actively pursue opportunities from chancellor Philip Hammond’s last Budget, which included a £44bn funding pledge for new housing over next five years.

Dorset’s population is set to rise by 14.5% to 884,000 by 2039, with an expected 13,200 more jobs needed for the local economy by 2033 in north, south and west Dorset.

The average house price in Dorset is £295,202 while the average salary is £24,263 – meaning a house price is 12.2 times the average (a ratio of 12.2:1). Well above the 7.6:1 national average.

Cllr Tim Yarker, housing portfolio holder for West Dorset District Council, said: “New homes are essential for the future sustainability, growth and prosperity of our communities.

“A mix of good quality housing will help keep young people in our area while attracting and retaining the key and skilled workers our local economy needs to grow.”

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, North Dorset District Council leader and housing portfolio holder, said: “We are facing major housing shortages with demand outstripping supply.

“Opening Doors is about seizing the initiative and implementing any measures we can at a local level to help play our part in solving the housing crisis.”


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