Councillors have approved an investment of £1.5 million to help solve housing issues for adults with social care needs.

Dorset County Council’s cabinet today (March 7), agreed to explore options in an 'innovative' modular housing scheme which could provide housing for around 250 people.

Modular housing is flexible, moveable and can be designed to suit a range of needs.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset County Council cabinet member for health and care said: "It's a really 'good news' story. It puts us as one of the first councils to create modular housing solutions for our residents."

Over the next four years, Cllr Haynes said it was estimated the county council would have to find housing for approximately 260 clients with physical and mental health needs.

She added the council struggled in particular to find housing for people with autism who had specific needs and currently these people were having to be sent out of the county "at a lot of expense."

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to help people get the right accommodation for their needs.

“Modular housing will help people to live more independently in their communities and can prevent long-term hospital stays," Cllr Haynes said.

The county council propose to develop a portfolio of houses across the county which they say could help satisfy the immediate and medium-term housing demand.

The cabinet approved the reallocation of £1.5 million capital investment which had previously been allocated to the Bridport Connect development.

The investment is no longer needed in the development as services will now be provided through a wider project through private investment.

“The flexibility of the housing means we can make best use of public assets without jeopardising future plans.

“It gives us a fairly immediate solution to the housing crisis in the county for people with social care needs,” Cllr Haynes said.

A report presented to the cabinet by Cllr Haynes said modular housing had significant benefits over other options as it could be sourced and on site within six months and considerably cheaper in comparison to more traditional forms of accommodation - costing £45,000 per unit.

Cllr Daryl Turner said he was aware of similar small projects which were extensively eco-friendly.

"I think if we are going to look at this project, we should have that in mind," he said.

Cllr Haynes said the costs of maintaining the modular housing were costs to the council so it was something they would look at.

The council plan to use the initial investment to purchase 30 housing units to relieve the immediate demand for housing.

Under current planning regulations, modular housing requires a full planning application.

Cllr Mark Roberts said a deadline to deliver the 30 units was set for October 18 and questioned if enough time had been allowed for the planning process.

Transformation programme lead for the Adult and Community Forward Together Programme, Helen Coombes said: "We have people sitting in care that need to come out. We know it's ambitious but we are going to turn every bit of our intelligence to achieve it."