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Maria Greenwood on the lack of affordable housing for young people

PUBLISHED: 11:21 25 June 2014

To buy or not to buy? Owning a house is the dream of many young people in Dorset but for most it remains just that, because of a lack of affordable housing

I can’t make up my mind why I am so indecisive. I think there’s a lot to be said for being cautious. In fact my ‘look before you leap’ attitude to life helped me survive when my plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the desert. Ok, so it might have been an imaginary plane and imaginary desert and part of a team building exercise at work, but I still had the top score for survival skills.

The only problem with a cautious outlook on life is not being able to make quick decisions. I prefer to mull over the pros and cons, think about the various possible outcomes. This usually leads me to decide that the best thing to do is put the whole thing off and think about it again later. Which, gathering from my recent experiences, puts you at a slight disadvantage when it comes to buying a house.

Deciding where to live is a pretty big decision. Yet you’re supposed to make your mind up by taking a ten-minute tour of someone else’s home, while trying to look like you’re not being nosey and maintaining a pleasant facial expression when faced with ‘interesting’ interior design choices.

And if this isn’t bad enough, the next bit - making an offer - is even worse. Do you try and get a deal and risk losing out to another buyer? Or do you go in with the full asking price, left only to wonder if you could have got a deal had you been a little bit braver? When I finally picked up the phone to the estate agent to tell them that perhaps if I had another ten-minute look around the house I could probably come to a decision, I found the choice had been taken out of my hands. Someone else had made up their mind and the deal was done.

There is a deeper issue when it comes to the housing market in Dorset and one that constantly comes up on Wessex FM news - the lack of affordable homes in the county. Part of the problem is that we live in such a beautiful part of the world and many areas are protected from development. So despite the Government demanding more new homes, there are few places where you can build in Dorset.

Affordable housing is a particular problem for young people in the county. Many are being forced out of their villages because they can’t afford to buy a home where they grew up. It’s a problem which West Dorset District Council is trying to address in Owermoigne. Here they are looking at giving planning permission to build a handful of homes, specifically for local young people. Some may argue that young people should go off and have new experiences and then come back to Dorset. But my mind is made up on this one. If their decision is to stay in Dorset then our decision should be to help them.

Maria’s Musician of the Month - Ben Waters

The festival season is upon us and for one Dorset musician it’s an extra busy time of the year. Boogie, blues and rock ‘n’ roll pianist Ben Waters is hosting the Watercombe Music Festival on 20 - 21 June at the new location of Haselbury Mill in the village of Haselbury Plucknett, just outside Crewekerne (watercombemusicfestival.com). Headlining this year is Geno Washington. It’s no surprise that Ben is able to bag some great musicians to play at this local festival, having himself worked with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Chuck Berry to name a few.

That musical talent runs in the family too. Ben is a cousin of double Mercury award-winner singer song writer PJ Harvey, and Ben’s young daughter Molly and son Tom regularly appear on stage with the Ben Waters Band. For more details of up coming gigs visit benwaters.com.

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