MORE land needs to be released for development in order to deal with Dorset’s housing crisis.

That was the view of a meeting which heard that people in the county needed to be earning 14 times their current salary to afford a home.

Spectrum Housing Group organised a meeting of councils, housing associations, builders and consultants in Christchurch in response to the National Housing Federation’s South West Home Truths publication.

The keynote speaker, Christchurch MP Chris Chope, said: “Housing is an important issue, as recognised by the Chancellor who had much to say about it in the recent budget statement including the extension of the Help to Buy scheme. “In Dorset we struggle with variances across the county from urban areas to very rural areas where salaries do not match the average price of a home.

“We do need to find a way to encourage young people to stay in the county – it’s good for our economy but they need places to live. We need to be more imaginative in our approach. Why do we not emulate many other countries in Europe where a very high percentage of new homes are created through a self-build programme?”

Richard Hill, CEO of Spectrum, said: “In Dorset the average house price is now £261,715, which means that, based on an average salary, people need to be earning 14 times their salary to afford to buy a home. “This creates its own pressures on the rental sector and on the housing waiting lists. “In Dorset alone there are over 10,000 people in need of a home and in 2012/13 only 181 homes were built by housing associations.”

He said Spectrum’s corporate plan included a commitment to employ 50 apprentices and support 100 people – maybe its residents – into the Pathway programme towards long-term employment.

Bruce Voss from the Homes and Communities Agency told the meeting: “The government is committed to the release of public land and has set a target of realising £5bn through the sale of land that can be reinvested.”

Gordon Page, chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP will soon be publishing its strategy which focuses on strengthening the Dorset economy and linking the ability to do so to the infrastructure of the county which includes housing. “Part of this process is a planning charter signed by every local authority in Dorset which supports the strategy of providing 10,000 homes over the next five years.”