Councils ask would-be buyers what homes they want – with information to be passed to developers

A group of local councils have set up an unusual new register that will quiz would-be house buyers on what sort of homes they want.

Information could be passed to developers, and anyone signing up will get a newsletter with information about developments.

The scheme, called Opening Doors, has already launched.

Opening Doors’s ‘Home Ownership Register’, which is a joint initiative between Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, West Dorset District Council and North Dorset District Council, is designed predominantly to ask those who are looking to buy about their requirements.

Questions included how many bedrooms would-be buyers are looking for, price, preference for shared ownership, affordable and open market properties, garden size and choices between flats or houses.

The councils say the register will allow them to gain an insight into the type of homes people, especially younger, local working people want.

Other elements of the campaign include applications for Government funding (including an application for £8.4m in the latest Housing Infrastructure Fund round in February), support for more community land trusts, a brownfield site register, and discussions with registered providers and developers.

In order to sign up to the register, participants have to agree that their information will be used “for the purpose of gauging demand for a range of different home ownership products and enabling registrants to be contacted by housing organisations that are marketing products that meet an individual’s aspirations”.

The agreement adds: “Your information may be shared with housing organisations that wish to bring new housing developments to your attention.”

Nonetheless, a spokesperson for Opening Doors told EYE that “no firm arrangements are in place with any developers/builders/housing organisations to share this data”.

He added: “It is just something that may be pursued if we think it is of value to prospective buyers.”

When EYE asked who the councils eventually planned to share the information with, whether planning authorities, developers, or some other organisation, the spokesperson said the councils were not yet sure.

He said: “The information will be collated into a document for reference.

“Then the council will decide what to do with it – depends how useful it is.”

Despite this, the official press release about the initiative claims that anyone signing up to Opening Doors will receive a newsletter “with the latest news about housing developments and new homes for sale in the area”.

Counillor Graham Carr-Jones, North Dorset District Council leader and housing portfolio holder, said: “We want to hear from anyone thinking of buying, whether they are looking to get on the housing ladder or are an existing home owner on the move.”

Councillor Gill Taylor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council housing briefholder, said: “There is a quick and simple online form to fill in which means people will have all of the latest property news while playing their part in combating the housing shortage.”

And councillor Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council housing portfolio holder, added: “We are among a number of councils nationwide working pro-actively to find solutions to the housing crisis at a local level, and this register will play a key role in our work.”

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