ACCEPTING Government housing targets for Dorset could be storing up problems for the county’s future.

The claim was made at a Dorchester town council meeting – along with a call for Dorset Council to challenge the figure.

Said Cllr Susie Hosford: “Dorset Council shows no will to challenge Government targets…it should use local information about what we need to fulfil the housing policy, rather than follow targets set on high. The result is we end up being developer led which won’t give Dorset the properties we actually need.”

The meeting heard that because of Government housing targets and the need of developers to make profits, far too many larger houses were being built which attracted older, wealthier people to the county – while at the same time there was an outpouring of younger people who could no longer afford to live here and were increasingly unable to find suitable jobs.

The net result, town councillors were told, would be problems in years to come when older people needed someone to look after them.

Councillors at Monday evening’s meeting said they were also concerned about new housing schemes which only included to the minimum 35 per cent ‘affordable’ homes when many felt the percentage should be higher.

There was also claims of a lack of direction from the Government, and a lack of legislation, which meant councillors could not insist on ‘green’ additions to homes when they were first built – including solar panels, heat exchangers, high levels of insulation, and charging points for electric vehicles.

Several called for Dorset Council, which is now the planning authority and in charge of housing, to challenge the Government on both issues.

Cllr Les Fry said that housing was going to be a major problem with growing waiting lists, where councillors wanted to help everyone but could not afford to do so under current funding arrangements.

The meeting heard that there are currently 265 Dorset Council area families classed as homeless.

“We need old-fashioned council houses, hundreds of them. There are hundreds of families who can’t afford market rents in and around Dorchester,” said Cllr Janet Hewitt.

“The families need it now, right now, not in three or four years’ time. If we don’t do something for families all we will be left with is elderly people,” she said.

Cllr Fiona Kent-Ledger said Dorset Council needed a discussion about what ‘affordable’ meant in the local context. She said the Dorset Council draft corporate plan had too much emphasis about buying a home, which for many, was not realistic. She also questioned why the plan only covered four years – when most strategic plans were for 10 years, or more.

Cllr Robin Potter, who chairs the town council planning committee, called on Dorset Council to challenge the government’s housing targets and the legislation around building ‘green’ technologies into new homes.

Cllr Molly Rennie said figures from the housing register showed that 57 per cent of those on the housing register wanted one-bed homes and 14 per cent a three-bed home, yet the most common property type in the county was larger detached homes.