Call on Welsh Government to save Welsh language communities from post-Covid holiday home boom

Porth Dinllaen, Morfa Nefyn, picture by Robert Powell (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A town council in the north-west of Wales is calling on the Welsh Government to introduce new powers that would ensure that anyone wanting to change a house into a holiday home needs permission first.

Nefyn town council wants to see people who plan to buy properties to convert them into holiday homes or AirBnBs applying for official planning permission, and paying increased council tax.

They are also demanding that houses on the market should be offered to people who live in the area first, and want to redefine “affordable housing” so that prices reflect the average wages in Gwynedd.

Figures by Rightmove suggested there had been a surge in demand for housing in Wales in August, with demand up 61% and house prices rising 24% to an average of £212,800.

Rhys Tudur, a town councillor in Nefyn who also works as a solicitor, said prices have gone “through the roof” in the area, where the average wage is £16,000.

Research by the town council has shown that 30% of houses in Edern and 15% of houses in Morfa Nefyn were identified as second homes.

 

‘Fragile’

“I presented the proposal because there are great worries in regards to the housing market here in Gwynedd,” he told North Wales Live.

“Local houses are going to people who don’t live here long term. Following coronavirus, gentrification is become a worrying issue at a much larger scale than we anticipated in this area.

“Prices have gone through the roof. For example, one small two-bedroom house was put on the market for £240,000 in Morfa Nefyn, with the average wage here in Gwynedd being £16, 000. This situation is an emergency.

“Local people are being prevented from living in their own communities, and young people cannot live in the area in which they were brought up.

“Local people are being priced out from the area, which has a harmful effect on population and the Welsh language,” said Cllr Tudur.

“This could mean that the Welsh language, which is spoken by the majority, could disappear from coastal areas. Such consequences cannot be undone.

“I feel as if the Government is not paying enough attention to this matter. I fear that Gwynedd is a place they don’t care about, but this fragile situation is calling for support and change.

“As a solicitor, I am fully aware of the housing market at present and I think it’s embarrassing that there’s no watchdog monitoring the housing rate.

“We acknowledge that, as a town council, we don’t have the necessary powers to pass these measures but, due to the lack of action from the highest form of authority on this issue so far, we feel like we have no choice but to address it.

“The future of our Welsh communities is at stake here.

“The Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council have to take drastic and quick action to save our communities or they will be held responsible for the erosion of our communities.”

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