Nearly 30 town councillors, language campaigners and local people will march tomorrow from Nefyn to Caernarfon to demand that the Welsh Government acts to solve what they say is a “second home crisis”.
Campaigners who are taking part in the 20-mile hike say the rise in the number of second homes in rural Wales threatens the Welsh language, particularly on the Llŷn peninsula.
They are calling on the Government to pass a new Property Act on devolving the Land Transaction Tax to local authorities.
Rhys Tudur, a town councillor in Nefyn, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the Welsh Government’s inaction in dealing with our second homes crisis.
“The Government has not shown any political will whatsoever to solve this emergency in Gwynedd and Môn,” he said.
“The Government’s inaction is heartbreaking given that there are too many second homes in our communities resulting in gentrification, and creating a huge imbalance that is detrimental to the wellbeing of future generations who cannot live in their local area.”
Town councillors and language campaigners will be marching on foot, bike and car from various locations on the Llŷn Peninsula, including Nefyn, Morfa Nefyn, Llanllyfni and Y Ffôr to demand Government action.
Gwynedd County contains the highest levels of houses that are bought as second homes. 40% of all houses bought recently were bought as second homes, Rhys Tudur said.
“If there a way to use the revenue raised by the Land Transaction Tax more effectively, we in Gwynedd would be able to decide amongst ourselves on the best way to spend this for the benefit of our communities.
“Devolving the land tax to local authorities would provide local people with the opportunity to decide the future of their own communities, allowing them to decide the level of this tax and change the rate as needed. We are marching to insist that the Government not only recognises the existence of this emergency, but also takes the necessary steps needed to solve it.”
Cymdeithas yr Iaith will also take part in the march, as part of its ‘Nid yw Cymru Ar Werth’ (Wales is not for sale) campaign, and call on the Welsh Government to pass a new Property Act which, according to the campaign group, would go a long way in resolve the crisis.
Elfed Wyn Jones, Chair of the Cymdeithas committee for Gwynedd and Anglesey said there was an “urgent crisis” in the functioning of the housing and property market.
“Whole communities are losing a large proportion of their homes through the market to second homes, holiday homes like AirBnB, and housing for wealthier people moving to retire,” he said.
“At the moment, the open market decides everything and treats houses as commercial properties and destroys communities. The immediate solution is therefore to enable communities to control the market and treat the housing stock as people’s homes.
“We, therefore, call on the Welsh Government to pass a new Property Act which would give local authorities powers and reasonable funding to control the housing market in these areas. These powers would include powers to establish the need for planning permission to change the use of a house into a second home or commercial property for holiday letting or AirBnB, and powers to increase tax (and prevent tax evasion) on property and used for such purposes.
“The Government needs to reject the Thatcherian policy framework it is currently operating in and act instead for justice for young people in rural areas. In other words, the Government needs to prioritise communities, not capitalism.”