At least £9 billion worth of new houses are planned in Dorset by the council’s new draft Local Plan.

But the plan is full of contradictions. The council claim a need for over 30,000 houses in Dorset, to be built in the 15 years from 2023, but its 620 pages offer nothing to back this up.

The Office for National Statistics publishes projections of household numbers. The 2020 data show Dorset growing by 10% Plan period: an increase of 17,000 households. So why are Dorset Council planning to build over 30,000 houses?

Two reasons it seems. First they use a historical 2014 data set, because it shows bigger growth. And second, they have raised the target by nearly 40% because the average house price in Dorset is much more than 4 times the average income. The Plan doesn’t say how this 40% increase will help: presumably they think building more houses than needed will force down prices? But this is nonsense. The price of turkeys on Christmas Eve behaves like this. House prices don’t. House prices are not high because overall demand in Dorset outstrips supply.

Otherwise existing developments would sell much more quickly.

Nor can house prices be forced down by a Council target to build more. Developers build houses, not Dorset Council. They are not going to start to over-supply the market, why would they?

The Plan admits that there are already 12,000 houses with planning permission in Dorset that haven’t been built yet.

So Dorset Council’s new draft Local Plan says they need to build 30,000 houses of which:

12,000 are already planned but not yet built for unexplained reasons

5,000 which are needed to meet demand up to 2038

13,000 which are surplus to future demand Common sense might say the market will sort this nonsense out, and it will. But meanwhile, and this is the twist, sites for those 13,000 houses are receiving planning permission through this Plan.

Land owners are rushing to offer their sites and land values are increasing 100-fold as a result. Farms, golf courses, the Green Belt are all being re-purposed in a Dorsetwide land grab based on gross miscalculation.

The Council are consulting until March 12th and want to know what we think: I suggest we tell them?


Sturminster Marshall