English town votes in 95% landslide to end second home ownership of new properties
An English town has voted by 95% to stop people buying new properties as second homes there.
Of the 2,228 votes cast in the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby there were 2,111 votes in favour and only 157 against.
Residents were asked to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question: ‘Should all new build and additional housing in Whitby Parish be restricted to full time local occupation as a primary residence only and forever (in perpetuity)?’
The town is in an area represented by a Conservative MP. While the result is not legally binding, the parish council is considering a ban on new build properties being sold as second homes.
Conservative councillor Phil Trumper said that the number of second homes being bought meant that local people were struggling to find houses in the area.
“We’re giving planning permission to new developments on the basis that they’re going to provide housing stock for the housing need for local people,” he said.
“But that’s not happening, they’re being taken away. For example, a new development recently built, I think out of the 20 new properties built, 19 of them went to holiday lets.”
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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