A DEVELOPMENT of affordable housing on the site of the former North Dorset district council offices has moved a step closer to reality, after the sale of land was completed.

Aster Communities Ltd already has detailed planning permission to transform the site at Norden, Blandford.

Dorset Council has announced that the sale of the site was completed on March 29 – and the development is now imminent.

Developers said they hoped the first families would be able to start moving on to the new development in early 2022.

The development will be a mix of social rent and shared ownership homes, consisting of one-bedroom maisonettes alongside two, three and four bedroom-houses.

Amanda Williams, Group Development Director at Aster, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Drew Smith of Vistry Partnerships to deliver 40 new homes at Blandford Forum for shared ownership and social rent.

“The development will provide much needed affordable housing for families who may otherwise have been priced out of the area.

“We’ve listened to feedback to ensure our plans for the development are in keeping with the local architecture, and we’ll also be incorporating features from an existing building on the site.

“Many of the mature trees will also be integrated into the scheme which will include a local play area.

“We hope to start on site soon and we’re looking forward to seeing the first families moving into their new homes early in 2022.”

Cllr Tony Ferrari, Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Assets and Property said: “We are delighted that the sale has now completed on this site. The council has received over £2m that will go back in to funding important services for Dorset.”

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio holder for Housing and Community Safety, said: “Affordable housing is so important to Dorset. Delivering affordable housing is a key ambition of our Dorset Council Plan and this is a huge milestone in delivering that ambition, underpinning our commitment to help make Dorset a great place to live, work and visit.”

In May 2017, the former North Dorset District Council agreed to sell Nordon.

A conditional contract was exchanged with Aster in August 2018. The sale was conditional on them obtaining planning permission, which was granted last year.

Council planning officers said using the site for housing was a good use of the land. It lies within the town conservation area and is within walking distance of the town centre.

The converted main Edwardian building, a lodge building and former stables, will be demolished on the site along with several temporary buildings which have been added to the site by the former council over the past 30 years.