Communities asked to apply for funding

West Dorset is leading the way in tackling affordable housing need in the countryside with innovative community land trusts.

It is among the most active local authority areas nationwide with 10 of the groundbreaking schemes completed or in the planning stage.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) – including the latest at Powerstock, near Bridport – are affordable housing developments led by local people to house local people.

West Dorset District Council (WDDC) is urging more communities to come forward and take advantage of £1.2m of funding available as part of its Opening Doors housing programme – and as it marks the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week. (TUESDAY JULY 3 to FRIDAY JULY 6)

Cllr Tim Yarker, who is West Dorset District Council (WDDC) housing portfolio holder, said: “CLTs are powerful social enterprises, sourcing land that would not otherwise be available for housing either at highly discounted rates or in some instances for free.

“Driven by local residents with a passion for their communities, and providing much-needed housing for people from the community, they make a valuable contribution to the vitality and cohesion of their rural settlements.

“Opening Doors aims to encourage the development of more good quality homes of a mixed tenure and there is no doubt that some of the strongest need is in our rural areas.

“It is encouraging to see the Powerstock CLT progressing so well and we would like to see more communities come forward to take advantage of the funding and support available.”

The Powerstock CLT is due for completion in early 2019 when it will provide eight affordable rented homes for Powerstock families.

It follows hot on the heels of the Garmin’s Field CLT at Lyme Regis and others in such villages as Toller Porcorum, Marshwood and Buckland Newton.

Steve Watson, of Wessex CLT Project, which has helped communities launch schemes, said: “As far as I am aware West Dorset has more CLTs than any other district in the country.

“That is no coincidence, the council has given incredible support to CLTs and has been for 10 years now.”

The Powerstock & District Community Land Trust Ltd has worked with the Wessex CLT Project, WDDC and Hastoe Housing Association on the scheme

Committee chair Vanessa White said: “There has already been a great deal of interest in the homes from people of different ages but all with a local connection.

“The community has been very supportive and we’re also very grateful to West Dorset District Council, Hastoe, the landowner and the Wessex CLT Trust.”

Hastoe, which is a specialist rural housing association, has coordinated construction of the development and will manage the properties when complete although the CLT will retain the freehold.

Peter Friend, development project manager at Hastoe, said: “Hastoe has been partnering with community land trusts, like Powerstock CLT, to assist them in the provision of affordable housing in their communities.”

He added: “Partnering with the Powerstock CLT has allowed Hastoe to find, acquire and develop a site that would probably have not been made available for affordable housing in any other way.” The NHF Rural Housing Week is held to debate rural housing issues and celebrate innovative solutions to provide homes vital for the survival of countryside communities.

Supporting housing provision is one of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) four key aims.

Opening Doors has been launched by West Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council with an overall aim of encourage 20,000 more homes by 2033.

Visit the Opening Doors website to find out more details about starting a CLT at