Dorset Council is struggling to find suitable properties to buy

THE councilor who leads Dorset Council’s housing team has admitted it’s almost impossible to be ‘fleet-footed’ when it comes to finding suitable properties.

“As an authority, we like to wade through mush and make life really, really difficult,” admitted Cllr Graham Carr-Jones.

“The cogs of local government are turning very slowly.”

It was responding to a suggestion by Dorchester Councilor Molly Rennie that Dorset Council should consider stepping in to buy suitable homes or other properties for locals before they are bought by investors for Airbnb businesses or vacation homes.

Cllr Rennie has suggested that at least some of the money from the council’s £4million annual housing budget could be set aside to make appropriate and quick acquisitions when they hit the market.

She was speaking at a meeting which heard that applications from homeless people, or families, now stand at 160 each month, up from 120 before Covid, although the council was unable to help.

As part of the solution and to avoid using bed and breakfasts for those without a roof over their heads, the council bought a limited number of properties and also investigated the conversion of buildings he owns but no longer needs.

Cllr Carr-Jones said a new housing strategy would be presented later in the year, but warned funding remained tight and the county would still have to rely on housing associations and other registered housing providers .

In response to a question from Littlemoor and Preston councilor Louie O’Leary, he said council stepping in to buy homes from housing associations when they were selling them was not usually an option as the associations only sold generally only houses because the cost of bringing them up to modern standards was prohibitive.

Weymouth Councilor Gill Taylor said she would welcome a wider debate on housing supply, saying older people wanting to downsize now find it almost impossible to get a suitable bungalow or cottage , ideally close to good public transport, because the market was driven by developers who generally chose not to build for them.

The meeting heard earlier that the cost of housing in Dorset meant that even young professionals, who were relatively well paid, were now reluctant to work here.

Melcombe Regis Councilor Jon Orrell said it was time for the current housing model to be challenged: “This market needs to be disrupted. for public sector workers and the general public,” he said.

Wimborne councilor Sean Bartlett said the council and previous councils had “put to sleep” the current housing issues the county has faced for decades.

He said a solution would require ‘blue sky thinking’ and the development of a positive strategy that would help Dorset residents unable to afford to buy their own homes.

“We’re losing people in their 30s and 40s and young people, leaving the county, it’s not sustainable and we need to seriously think about it,” he said.

Comments are closed.