NEW AFFORDABLE housing is being provided for a rural community near Dorchester.

A landmark £1.45million project for Maiden Newton and Frome Vauchurch will see 14 new homes delivered at Neil’s View.

The scheme is the brainchild of the Upper Frome Valley Community Land Trust.

It is being delivered for the land trust by development company Aster Homes and will include four one-bedroom flats, four two-bedroom bungalows and six two and three-bedroom houses.

The initiative has also received the backing of West Dorset District Council and has attracted funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, which has invested more than £580,000 in the project.

Members of the trust got the ball rolling for work on the new homes as they donned hard hats to dig the first footings in a special turf-cutting ceremony.

Chairman Neville Higman said: “Our members are delighted to see the building of the remainder of Neil’s View now becoming a reality.

“We are grateful to Jean and Steve Marsh for making the project possible through providing the land, which now becomes a community-owned asset for all time.

“The land trust will now work to ensure that everyone with a local connection who is interested in living in these new properties is on the local housing register.”

Aster Homes regional development director Fiona Astin said: “Buying a property or even renting one privately in a rural location like Maiden Newton can be very expensive.

“It’s often out of the reach of people who’ve lived locally all their lives, so making sure the village has high-quality affordable homes is absolutely vital.”

West Dorset District Council leader Cllr Robert Gould: “We always try to work with residents and housing associations to help provide affordable housing which will help to ensure the sustainability of local communities.”

Of the homes at Neil’s View, 12 will be for affordable rent, with the remaining two for shared ownership.

They will be managed on the trust’s behalf by Aster Homes’ sister company Synergy Housing.

Work on the new homes is due to be completed in March 2015.