Dorset is one of the most expensive places in Britain to rent or buy a home. As local housing costs continue to rise, Dorset residents are finding they cannot afford to live in the area. New affordable homes are needed for local people and are essential for stable, healthy and vibrant communities. 

What is affordable housing

Affordable housing is homes for sale or rent for those whose needs are not met by the market.

Some affordable housing schemes may be developed outside of the housing register, or Help to Buy Scheme, where they are designed to meet needs in addition to housing.

The affordable homes that are developed need to comply with definitions set by Government through the National Planning Policy Framework .

Types of affordable homes

The types of affordable homes developed are:

  • Social Rented - rents set in accordance with Government regulations
  • Affordable Rent - rents no more than 80% of market value
  • Shared Ownership - part buy/part rent homes
  • First Homes - new homes sold at 70% of market value

First Homes is a new scheme being rolled out over the next 2 years across England. Designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder, by offering homes at a discount of 30% compared to the market price. The discounts will apply to the homes forever, meaning that generations of new buyers and the local community will continue to benefit every time the property is sold.

Applying for affordable housing

You can access affordable homes to rent through the Dorset Council Housing Register.

You can access affordable homes to buy, or part buy, through the Help to Buy Scheme.

The Housing Enabling Team

The role of the Housing Enabling Team is to work with:

  • local communities
  • developers
  • housing associations
  • planners
  • local and central government

to plan and deliver affordable housing schemes, for both rented and low-cost home ownership, across the Dorset Council area. The team also works to establish Community Land Trusts that build affordable homes for local people within their communities.

Finding sites for new housing, especially for affordable homes, can be very challenging. Dorset is one of the most environmentally important and protected areas in the country, with 56% covered by two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designations. These sit alongside the ‘Jurassic Coast’, England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Residential development is also not permitted within a 400m buffer around protected heathland which further restricts developable sites.

Community Land Trusts

Community Land Trusts are not for profit, community-based organisations run by local people to provide affordable housing. They can also provide ‘assets and services of local benefit’ such as community shops, workspaces and other services for long-term community benefit.

Delivering affordable homes for local people is best done by those who live in their community, who know what is needed and want to help. A mix of good quality housing is essential if a community is to evolve in a sustainable way. This means more people for village shops and more children in local schools. 

Affordable rural housing plays a large role in achieving this by providing homes for those who might otherwise be forced to leave their village or town.

Dorset has been a leading area in establishing Community Land Trusts (CLTs) across England. Below is a list of CLTs that have or are in the process of delivering affordable housing and other services of local benefit.

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