YOUNG people and families are being left in an “unsustainable position” by the “massively concerning” lack of affordable housing in East Dorset, according to a campaign group.

The authority’s plans to build 23 homes in the financial year 2010/11 represents just five per cent of the housing need, a survey by the Countryside Alliance reveals.

These figures see East Dorset District Council ranking as the second worst of 306 councils surveyed.

And the alliance is warning that if it is not addressed, countryside communities will “shrivel and die”.

North Dorset District Council fares better, with 110 new homes meeting 28 per cent of the identified need.

Alison Hawes, South West regional director for the Countryside Alliance, said: “East Dorset Council met just five per cent of the affordable housing needs in 2010/11.

“The Countryside Alliance is massively concerned by this shortfall, which is leaving young people and families in an unsustainable position.

“If they are unable to afford to live where they grew up they face limited choices and must often move away, meaning the break-up of communities.”

The councils do not appear to be addressing the problem with the “seriousness and urgency it needs”, she added.

“These figures are very telling and we hope they are a call to action to really get to grips with this problem,” Ms Hawes said.

Average housing prices in rural areas are 5.4 times the UK average annual earnings in the countryside, alliance findings show.

Derek Harding, head of housing at North Dorset District Council, said from 2008 – 2011 they exceeded their 275 target by building 276 homes.

“Over the coming year our target is for well over 150 and our delivery rates are higher than they have ever been,” he said. “We are bucking the trend, but meeting the annual need of 399 is simply not achievable post credit-crunch.”

Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of East Dorset District Council said: “The council is confident that it is more than capable of delivering improved affordable housing provision over the coming years through a range of actions and policies, including the enabling of affordable housing in our rural communities.”