English city votes to ban new-build second homes and holiday lets
The council of the city of Brighton in England has voted to ban new-build second homes and holiday lets in a bid to bring down soaring house prices.
The move by councillors comes after a Brighton and Hove City Council report found that more than 3,000 properties in the city could be being used as short-term holiday lets.
According to Rightmove, the average property in Brighton and Hove costs £473,000, a 14% increase on the £414,000 average cost at the start of the pandemic.
The crackdown comes after residents in the town of Whitby in the north of England voted by 95% to stop people buying new properties as second homes there last week.
Cllr Amanda Evans said that the ban in Brighton was necessary as younger people could not afford to live in the city.
“Younger employees at the council are moving out to Worthing because they can’t afford to live in Brighton,” she told the local newspaper, The Argus.
Three-quarters of properties in the Edward Street Quarter, a new development, had already been sold off “for outrageously high prices” before the development was completed, she said.
“I bet they’re not being bought by people who are going to live in them themselves,” she added.
The result comes as Wales looks set to introduce its own far-reaching legislation that will allow councils to curb ownership of second homes.
The Welsh Government confirmed last month that they would carry on with plans for tax hikes on holiday lets that do not rent out their properties for more than half the year.
Following a consultation, from April local authorities will be able to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 300% from April 2023.
The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change at the same time, from 70 to 182 days.
Welsh Conservatives have however opposed the move, with Aberconwy Senedd Member Janet Finch-Saunders accusing the Welsh Government of being “obsessed” with second homes.
“Industry data suggests that Wales needs to build 12,000 homes a year by 2031 but before the pandemic we saw that the Welsh Government could barely manage half of that,” Janet Finch-Saunders said.
“Shockingly in 2018-19, we saw the number of properties completed fall to 30.6% below levels seen prior to devolution.
“This failure to deliver on new homes is compounded by the reality that the Welsh Government refuses to listen to the common-sense policy solutions that I have put forward, including the re-introduction of the Right-to-Buy scheme and amendments to planning policy.
“Instead, the Welsh Government has become obsessed with targeting second homeowners and legitimate holiday let businesses.
“However, it is clear that even in this the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru are failing, once again announcing a new scheme without having thought it through. It is totally shocking that six months into this scheme Gwynedd’s Council Leader remains unsure as to what the Welsh Government are even piloting.”
The Senedd Member’s most recent register of interests shows that she jointly owned seven properties, including a residential/holiday-let property in Menai Bridge with her daughter.
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