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Council agrees ‘historic’ step in battle to control holiday homes

14 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Abersoch. Photo by bombhead is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

A council has agreed an “historic” step in a process to help it gain more control over holiday lets and second homes.

Cyngor Gwynedd’s cabinet has approved recommendations which start the process to enable the council to gain more control over the use of houses as second home and holiday lets.

Members approved plans for the introduction of a so-called Article 4 Direction. which enables local authorities to manage the change of use of residential dwellings to second homes and holiday accommodation.

The council’s action has been hailed as an “exciting, historic and crucial” step by Councillor Dafydd Meurig who brought the report before the cabinet.

Gwynedd could be one of first authorities in Wales to introduce the changes to its planning rules.

The rules would affect the area within the Gwynedd Local Planning Authority Area – but not the Eryri National Park Authority Area.

Owners currently have the right to change the use of a residential dwelling from a second home or holiday let without needing planning permission.

The council wants changes made to its planning rules making it necessary to submit a planning application.

No application would be necessary to turn holiday accommodation or a second home back into a dwelling.

Report

The council’s cabinet formally approved a report justifying the introduction of the Article 4 Direction.

It also agreed to the making of an Article 4 Direction which could come in after 12 months, and approved that the notice should be published for no less than six weeks to allow the public to submit responses to their intention.

It also approved the receipt of a further report to consider responses, following the period of public engagement, for a later decision to confirm the Article 4 Direction.

Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Cyngor Gwynedd Cabinet Member for Environment, said the council had long exerted “extreme pressure” on the Welsh Government to tackle the increase in holiday homes across the county due to the impact it was having on communities.

He said they aimed to tackle the problem of pricing local people out of the housing market..

“Our residents are being priced out of the housing market,” Cllr Meurig said.

“Recent research has showed on average 65.5% of Gwynedd’s population is priced out, the percentage increasing significantly in areas where there are higher numbers of holiday homes.”

The report pointed to a drop in domestic dwellings in Gwynedd at 61,679 in July 2018 to 61,335 in July 2022.

The number of holiday lets had also increased from 1,193 in July 2018 to 2,719 in July 2022, the data stated.

The highest provision of holiday homes was seen in the traditional areas of the Llŷn and Meirionnydd coast.

Priced out

The meeting also heard 96 percent of people were priced out in the seaside beauty spot of Abersoch.

The report noted that there had appeared to be “an increase in provision in the less traditional/urban locations”.

In the Bangor area (including the Pentir Community Council area), back in July 2018 the rate of housing stock in holiday use was 0.97%, but by July 2022 the figure had increased to a rate of 2.38%.

Although the percentage of housing stock in holiday use continues to be lower compared to other areas, this represented a percentage increase of 141% over a period of four years, the meeting heard.

Congratulating the cabinet on its work, the council’s chief executive Dafydd Gibbard said it was “leading the way for the whole of Wales,” in addressing the issues.

He said: “Other councils want us to share this expertise.

“It is your vision as a cabinet that has led us to this point today and due to the research from our planning team on the second homes market in Gwynedd.”

Historic step

Council leader Dyfrig Siencyn added: “The eyes of other political leaders are on us now, how it can be implemented, and we are willing to share our experiences.

“Thanks go to the policy unit that set out work for this, Elfyn Llwyd tried to get us to this point in the 90s, where others have failed we have succeeded. It is an historic step forward and I am pleased with the work of our planning team.”

Cllr Elin Walker Jones added: “It is our main aim to protect existing housing stocks and make sure people of Gwynedd have homes.”

Cllr Siencyn added: “Our work is now just starting.”


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Paul
Paul
9 months ago

Hopefully the planning consent will only last a few years, not be a one time event.

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