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Environmental campaigner George Monbiot sells home in Wales to local family

01 Feb 2022 3 minute read
George Monbiot. Photo by James Duncan Davidson (CC 2.0)

The environmental campaigner George Monbiot is selling his home in Wales to a local family.

The Guardian columnist has previously slammed second homes and called the housing crisis engulfing Wales a “grotesque and disgusting situation”.

He has owned a property in Machynlleth since 2007 and has rented it out to a local housing co-operative for the last nine years.

The writer says that he decided not to sell it on the open market because he does not want it to be bought and used as a second home, and wants it to be available for locals instead.

He said that he is willing to accept a lower price for the property to make sure that this is the case.

Monbiot told the County Times: “I am selling it, to a lovely local family. We are hoping to exchange contracts within a few weeks. For the past nine years, I’ve rented it to a local housing co-operative.

“It’s been a wonderful experience, that I would strongly recommend. They looked after the house in a way you would not usually expect of tenants, and built a warm and robust community.

“I chose not to sell it on the open market, as I wanted to be sure it would go either to a local family or to another co-operative. I’m very keen that it does not fall into the hands of second-home owners. Doubtless I could have made more money if I had advertised it, but I would be ashamed to take housing away from those who need it.

“There is now a severe housing crisis in Machynlleth, thanks in part to second homes, AirBnB and holiday lets.

“I believe there’s a powerful case for regulating this market and setting limits on the number of properties that can be removed from proper residential use.”

‘Shelter Cymru’

In July 2021 Monbiot  addressed delegates at the annual People and Homes Conference by housing charity Shelter Cymru.

He said second homes are causing “community death” in regions of Wales, especially in areas that are strongholds of the Welsh language and culture.

He praised some of the Welsh Government’s proposals to get to grips with the issue second homes but also called on it to go further.

According to Monbiot affordability of homes in Wales and the explosion of second homes that has driven local people out of the market across rural and coastal Wales, which he said has had a “catastrophic” impact on local people.

He quoted the statistic that, UK wide, there are roughly twice as many second homes as there are homeless households, saying that “greed is displacing need”.

One of the main drivers of this, he said, was the increasing cost of land, which has risen 500% since 1995 because it has become a speculative market.

He also called for policy changes in terms of taxation of second homes and a call for planning permission to be implemented for “change of use” when a home becomes a second home or a holiday let, controlled by each local authority.

Monbiot emphasised the urgent need for more affordable social homes to tackle the housing crisis in Wales, saying: “The right houses need to be built for those who need them”.

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2 years ago

Decent move by George, there’s hope for him yet. If he carries on like this he will become a full on community orientated activist away from the Anglo Brit version of urban crachach.

Grayham Jones
2 years ago

Stop all second homes in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Dwyfor ap Llynfell
Dwyfor ap Llynfell
2 years ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

What about those Welsh journalists who work for the Guardian or the BBC who sort of live in Waless but work in England. Is there a different rule for them because their first home is in Wales but second in Engkand?

Tom Parsons
2 years ago

Well done, George.

2 years ago

Perhaps he did, but he has redeemed himself with this decision as well as his recent pro-Wales article in the Grauniad and his new-found support for regulating the Welsh ‘housing market’.

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