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Dorset is under threat from excessive house building & Planning White Paper

Updated 29th October 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.

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.

The Government’s Planning White Paper and proposed Planning reforms threaten Dorset with even higher, centrally-imposed housing numbers, while greatly reducing local people’s say in the future of our communities. 

*** The independent report and Dorset CPRE's response to the Planning White Paper consultation can be found at the end of this webpage.***

Key Findings

  • Central government's housing targets, using 2014 projections, are 47% higher than the existing Local Plans in Dorset.
  • The government's housing targets are way in excess of any sensible forecast of local housing 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report proposes that the local authorities should be prepared to challenge the Government’s Standard Method based on outdated and flawed population and household projections.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 affordable housing for younger households.
  • Dorset CPRE supports a locally led democratic planning system rather than deregulated proposals.

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the answer, suggests this study, is that the household projections which underpin the housing needs calculations are out of date.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

A PDF copy of the report was circulated to councillors, Town and Parish Councillors and timely coming before the new proposed planning reforms announced in August. Printed copies were also posted to Dorset MPs and a number of Dorset Council and BCP Council Councillors. Please see below the link to the Dorset Housing Needs Evidence report. 

Planning Reform - Planning White Paper
Government calls for deregulation of the planning system are nothing new. The system has been blamed time and time again for restricting growth and housing delivery. But the truth is the opposite.

Locally-led development offers the best outcomes for people and nature. It can ensure that the right development is in the right place, and creates places where people actually want to live. The recently announced planning reforms will only serve to undermine local voices, by preventing communities from managing their own places/neighbourhoods and as we’ve seen before, result in environments that don’t work for the people that live there.

Key Concerns

  • The White Paper is a Charter for unnecessary overdevelopment in Dorset with significantly higher numbers than are needed.
  • There is a significant loss of local democracy and a reduction of the public involvement in the planning process - Dorset Council need to Stand up for Dorset rather than give in to demands from Westminster.
  • The White Paper proposals do not guarantee adequate protection for the precious environment of Dorset and in fact are a threat.

Responding to the consultation

Dorset CPRE responded to both the Changes to the Planning System and the White Paper consultations (see below copy of response).

The National CPRE convened meetings with more than 30 organisations to join forces and build momentum to oppose the government’s White Paper. Organisations included Shelter, the Town and Country Planning Association and the Local Government Association, as well as environmental NGOs such as Friends of the Earth.In this summary of the submission, CPRE outline their main concerns linked to the threat that these proposals place on local democracy, green spaces and the provision of affordable housing – and offer alternative approaches.

Additional notes:

5th August: Peter Bowyer, Chair of Trustees, had an excellent discussion with This is Alfred (based in Shaftesbury) about the 'New House Building Target Could Put North Dorset Countryside At Risk', the recording starts from 1:17.

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


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