DORSET Council will consider revising its local plan following an independent assessment on its housing need.

Housing need figures consider birth and death rates, the number of people moving in and out of the county (migration) and how the area’s population will grow in 17 years. The standard approach also includes a further uplift in the figures, based on housing affordability.

Independent consultants, Iceni Projects Limited, have carried out an assessment of the housing needs of specific groups such as the elderly, those with disabilities and those who cannot afford market housing. During this work, the consultants also considered whether there are grounds to plan for alternative housing need figures in the Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council areas, rather than those arising from the standard Government approach.

The study uses a different methodology to the standard Government approach and suggests that the numbers for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole might be significantly reduced, due to assumptions that had been made about international migration to Bournemouth. The Dorset Council area is not affected in this way and the same methodology results in an increase in Dorset Council’s housing need.

Dorset Council said it is considering this evidence and all the responses to the local plan consultation, and councillors will decide on revisions to the plan next year. The consultation document, published in 2021, suggested that the council would use the Government’s standard methodology to determine the local housing need.

Cllr David Walsh. Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “It is important that, as part of the development of the Dorset Council Local Plan, we test all assumptions and possibilities. The final adopted plan will guide decisions on planning applications in Dorset until 2038. It is vital that we get this right for the future of Dorset.”

Alternatives to the standard method will only be considered by the planning inspector when exceptional circumstances to the way the population figures have been calculated can be demonstrated. Unlike BCP Council the figures for the Dorset Council area offer no exceptional circumstances that can be challenged.

Planning also considers factors such as protected sites and areas such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It also takes into account climate change and renewable energies. It looks at how people will live and work in the Dorset Council area in the next 17 years, including how these people will access transport and community facilities to help reduce the reliance on cars.

All planning decisions, applications and developments must comply with the National Planning Policy Framework, and the local policies set out in adopted local plans. And there are other regulations for building control and which development requires planning permission.

The study that reassesses the housing need figures can be found at Dorset Council Local Plan evidence and background papers.

Details of the draft Dorset Council Local Plan, all the comments made in the 2021 consultation and the supporting evidence can be found at