Call for homes young people able to afford at Barton Farm
Councillors are campaigning to ensure a housing development in Sherborne will offer affordable homes for young people.
Since controversial plans to build 286 homes on land at Barton Farm – north west of Sherborne – were approved last month, councillors have rallied to try to get the best deal for the town.
Supported by West Dorset District council’s planning committee, the plans were granted permission subject to a series of conditions which are still under negotiation.
District councillor Terry Farmer, for Sherborne east ward, district councillor Peter Shorland, for Sherborne west ward, and town councillor Peter Rhodes, mayor of Sherborne, are now campaigning for assurances that developer Persimmon Homes will live up to promises to make 35 per cent of the housing “affordable”.
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Mr Farmer said: “Properties costing £200,000 are just not affordable here, especially with wages being so low.”
Although Mr Farmer has objected to the plans due to a number of concerns, including drainage issues, he supports the idea of more affordable homes for the town.
He said: “What we need is not more social housing but homes that people can part-buy, giving them a rising asset for the future and a step onto the property ladder.
“This is a priority for the district council.”
Mr Farmer said he still maintains concerns as to the practicality of the site and said he lacked “confidence” as he believed the developer had not yet purchased the land.
He said: “There is still an option to buy on the land and I think it will remain this way until they can reach an agreement on the conditions of the planning permission.
“It does not show that they have much confidence in the plans either at the moment.”
Planning officers had expressed concern that planning conditions could be relaxed for developers next year.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said that existing developers may in future be invited to appeal to downgrade their quota of affordable homes if they are struggling to develop.
The officers suggested that this could be a concern for the future of Barton Farm.
But Mr Shorland said: “Planning permission was subject to stringent conditions which are still being discussed.
“I think we’ll have to see what happens if this capacity to relax planning laws comes into government.
“Obviously a high per cent of affordable homes is a disadvantage to the developer.”
Mr Rhodes said making Sherborne more accessible for younger generations to live in was a main focus.
He said: “This is a big problem for youngsters in our town. It’s extremely sad that they have to move away because they can’t afford to live here.”
Mr Rhodes hopes to meet with other organisations to discuss local housing issues.