A COMMUNITY enterprise has lodged plans to build 19 affordable flats in the centre of Dorchester.

 The planning application to build the affordable one-bed flats for rent, including one designed for a person with limited mobility, was lodged with Dorset Council this week. The flats will be let to people up to the age of 35 who work in Dorchester.

The application is the result of many hours of work by the directors of the Dorchester Area Community Land Trust (DACLT), all of whom are volunteers, the architects, Reed Watts and the builders, Places for People based in Poundbury.

The proposed scheme is located on the site of the old tennis courts near Bowling Alley Walks.

A spokesman for DACLT said: “The building itself has been designed with attention being paid to sustainability and an environmental strategy which includes the use of sustainable materials and large triple-glazed windows to reduce the energy used by artificial lighting.

"There will be photo-voltaic panels located on the roof and no fossil fuels will be used in its construction. Its footprint is smaller than that of the two tennis courts which allows for an increase in the landscaped area and a gain in biodiversity.

“It has long been the ambition of Dorchester Town Council to provide housing for young working people in the town. This DACLT scheme begins to realise that ambition.

“Nineteen units may sound like a drop in the ocean when put beside the number of people and families waiting for accommodation in Dorchester on the Dorset Council Housing Register. However it is a start and a very important one at that.

“The DACLT has demonstrated, with the all-important support of the Town Council, that the housing challenges faced by so many young, hard-working people can be appropriately addressed. What is so special about this development however is that it will continue to serve its “affordable” purpose long into the future.”

"In many ways the tenancy agreements linked to these units echo the nearby almshouses, Napper’s Mite, Whetstones and Weld Court, some of which have been providing ‘affordable” accommodation for older people for more than 400 years.

“We would like to thank Homes England and the former West Dorset District Council for giving us grants to reach this point and, of course, Dorchester Town Council for both its continued support and for providing the site at much less than its full market value.

“Clearly the sooner planning permission is granted, the sooner the work can begin and the DACLT can move on to its next project.

"With this in mind we continue to look for suitable sites and parcels of land of any size in or around the town which could be developed.

"The DACLT is open to all and the membership fee is just £1. The more members we have, the more ambitious we may become. At present the greatest need is for housing but there’s nothing to stop the DACLT pushing for suitable premises for start-up businesses or to find and redesign a building to serve the increasing number of people who just need a desk with good computer connections to further their different forms of self employment."

Further information and membership details can be found on the website: www.daclt.org.uk