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Dorset is under threat from excessive house building

1st August  2020

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.

Updated 1st August.

  • Central government's housing targets, using 2014 projections, are 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report proposes that the local authorities should be prepared to challenge the Government’s Standard Method based on outdated and flawed population and household projections.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?

Housing targets for Dorset Local Planning authorities










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?

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of the answer, suggests this study, is that the household projections which underpin the housing needs calculations are out of date.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.”

PDF copies of the Dorset Housing Needs Evidence report, produced by Opinion Research Services, are being sent to all town and parish members of DAPTC as well as to the Dorset and BCP Councils, and Dorset MPs. Please see below the link to the Dorset Housing Needs Evidence report. 


Additional notes:

Opinion Research Services (ORSwas commissioned by Dorset CPRE to establish a robust and independent evidence base on housing need in Dorset.

There does not appear to be a need to increase housing numbers to meet local need. Most of the new housing provided was to meet the needs of people moving to Dorset and the peak age of those people moving in is around the retirement ages of 55/64 years. Therefore, new housing has been meeting the demand from those retiring or about to retire to Dorset. It has not been meeting the needs of young families who need affordable homes in order to be part of communities and the local economy, homes which should be affordable and practicable - such as being reasonably close to schools and other relevant facilities. Indeed, most of the new homes being delivered are unaffordable to young households and too many comprise dwellings designed as ‘executive’ housing.

Central government housing targets would seek to oblige Dorset to plan for and approve housing development well in excess of the housing numbers genuinely needed. Dorset’s environment and infrastructure, already under strain, cannot accommodate such excess development.

The national planning framework makes provision for councils to set out the circumstances which prevent them from planning for the full extent of central government housing targets. A number of councils have now successfully done so, and a growing number of councils are showing their frustration with these excessive targets. For the sake of our communities and environment, the Dorset Council and BCP Council can and should push back against these damaging and unrealistic government housing targets. We are all Custodians of our Environment for future generations.



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