The Office for National Statistics tells us that more people die here every year than are born. Yes, our local population shrinks every year for the simple reason that over 50 per cent of our population are over 65. So why have the Vearse Farm landowners been given permission to build 262 affordable and 500 owner occupied houses, for a shrinking population?

The Bridport Housing Register currently comprises around 440 households. By definition these people are either homeless or unsuitably housed. That report clearly shows we need around 500 new affordable homes here for local people. So why do we need the other 500 new owner-occupied homes at Vearse Farm? And who will buy them? Not Bridport folk because everyone that can afford to buy a home here has already got one.

Our Government has not been particularly minded to pay for affordable homes in this country since they decided to sell off millions of our council houses in the 1980s. The 500 new owner-occupied homes are only there to subsidise the 262 affordable homes so that the Government does not have to finance them. Vearse Farm came about simply because of central Government pressure to deliver affordable housing without public cost and Dorset Council had to comply. They had no choice.

Such tactics have now been superseded but our Government does not seem to realise that the world has moved on and that we no longer have to build hundreds of needless open market homes in order to get any new affordable homes. More and more private finance organisations are now entering the affordable housing market. They build houses to rent. Although the financial return is not spectacular it is a very safe investment and safe investments are rather thin on the ground at the moment. ‘Safe as houses,’ you might say.

It is worth noting that the Office for National Statistics is very clear that our population will continue to expand year on year but only by people moving here from other parts of the UK. I wonder if they may be the people who will buy the 500 new owner-occupied homes?

The proposed Watton Village Development in Bradpole comprises nearly 90 per cent affordable homes and is likely to be developed by private finance. No need for hundreds of new owner-occupied homes which Bridport simply does not need and the infrastructure cannot support.

Roy Mathisen