Purbeck District Council has been awarded £900,000 to help address the effects of second homes in the district.
The financial support from the Government’s Community Housing Fund will be used to kick-start affordable housing projects through Community Land Trusts and other interested community groups in the district.
Councillor Laura Miller, Housing Portfolio Holder at Purbeck District Council said: “This funding is very welcome. It gives communities the opportunity to decide what type of housing is most needed in their towns and villages, enabling local people to play a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems, creating genuinely aﬀordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing.
“This funding is only a small step towards meeting the overall housing need in Purbeck. The number of second homes in the district is having a significant effect on the price of property here; with the average house price in Purbeck £50,000 higher than the South West average, and the average private monthly rent £60 per month higher than the rest of England. Finding affordable housing is a real problem for the people of Purbeck.”
2015 data indicates there are a total of 22,192 properties in Purbeck, of which 1,620 (7.3%) are second homes and 111 (0.5%) are long-term empty homes.
Councillor Miller continued: “Many of the affected villages have also seen their local services, such as village shops, disappear as there is no longer a permanent local community to support them.”
Through its recently-formed Purbeck Housing Forum, the Council is working with local communities to see how funding can be best used. This forum comprises representatives from town and parish councils as well as local landowners and those with an interest in developing affordable housing in the district. At its most recent meeting, the forum heard from the Wessex Community Land Trust project which provides support to local communities interested in setting up their own community land trust.
Councillor Miller concluded: “I am excited to be working with the Purbeck Housing Forum to develop practical solutions to the housing crisis in Purbeck, so this funding could not have come at a better time.”
A total of £5million has been provided to Dorset councils, based on the number of second homes in their area.