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‘Grotesque’: Guardian columnist slams second homes at Welsh housing conference

08 Jul 2021 2 minutes Read
George Monbiot. Photo by James Duncan Davidson (CC 2.0)

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

George Monbiot made the comments as he addressed delegates at the annual People and Homes Conference by housing charity Shelter Cymru, which was held online yesterday.

The environmental campaigner and author 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.

‘Greed’ 

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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Gruff Williams
Gruff Williams
3 months ago

He’s got a second home in Machyntlleth

Mark
Mark
3 months ago
Reply to  Gruff Williams

I thought he’s been sent packing with his tail between his legs, after his re-wilding scam?

Tanya
Tanya
3 months ago
Reply to  Gruff Williams

Well, not quite. He couldn’t sell his home when he left Wales, so leased it on a long term basis to the local housing co-operative so they have full control over the rent and running of it. I know the people in the co-op.

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago
Reply to  Tanya

Very interested in these co.ops. Could do with an article.

Robert Owen
Robert Owen
3 months ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Just to add context in this particular case. By Monbiot’s own admission ‘couldn’t sell his house’ was more a matter of ‘couldn’t sell his house for the price he wanted’. Price inflation of the limited housing stock in mid Wales by affluent individuals who aren’t reliant on the (comparatively low wage) local economy for their income is a significant issue for those locally employed who are competing in the same market. The housing co-operative in question isn’t ‘the’ local housing co-op but one of a number of self-selecting and non-fixed groups who choose to collectively inhabit houses for a variety… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Owen

Oh, what a pity. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I had in mind, diolch!

Gruff Williams
Gruff Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Tanya

Hello Tanya, his house in Mach may be his second, fifth or seventh home, but it sure isn’t his first. He admits he didn’t sell it because he couldn’t get the asking price he wanted, that is documented. Hypocrisy, pure and simple. He is benefiting financially from a property he bought over the heads of locals. Who runs the co op?

Adrienne
Adrienne
3 months ago
Reply to  Gruff Williams

Looks like Taya has taken the wind out of your sour sails.

Gruff Williams
Gruff Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Adrienne

Not at all. He has admitted he didn’t sell the house because he couldn’t get the money he wanted from local buyers. There is no altruism here. He is financially benefiting from a property bought over the head of locals.

Morris Dean
Morris Dean
3 months ago
Reply to  Gruff Williams

I believe it’s rented out. Not the same as a holiday cottage.

Oh just read Tanya’s comment below, she’s spot on

Last edited 3 months ago by Morris Dean
Gruff Williams
Gruff Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Morris Dean

The article concerns second homes, and this is most certainly not Monbiot’s first home.

Dai Hawkins
Dai Hawkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Gruff Williams

See Tanya’s comment below.

M roberts
M roberts
3 months ago

PLANNING LAWS INSIST ON CHANGE OF USE FOR SHOPS THEREFORE SHOULD BE THE SAME TO CHANGE TO HOLIDAY USE!!

Dick Pow
Dick Pow
3 months ago

No one’s telling anybody not to buy property! Buy as may as you like, I would! But rent them out, not as holiday cottages and certainly not as a 2nd home which will end up being empty for most of the year!

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
3 months ago

This pro-Wales position of Monbiot’s seems so contradictory to his anti-Welsh rewilding ambitions, it’s difficult to fathom his degree of sincerity on the housing crisis. But he is at least making the right noises, and he has access to publicity, so I’ll give him a chance to redeem himself if he lends serious support to the anti-second-home campaign.

Liam O'Sullivan
Liam O'Sullivan
3 months ago

Wild ideas (and obviously insane) 1. Why not allocate deliverable sites through the local plan process? (Wrexham is still to get it’s 2013 plan adopted and Flintshire is not much better). 2. Deliver much needed infrastructure ?(just cancelled) 3. Provide funding to SME’s and new housebuilders that want to deliver 5-20 properties per annum? 4. Simplify the planning process so that sites of 5-20 units don’t have to spend up wards of £50k on a punt? 5. Stop introducing expensive poorly thought regulations that LA’s don’t understand and their highway teams don’t want to work with (SAB’s) 6. Stop scapegoating… Read more »

Tomos ap Sion
Tomos ap Sion
3 months ago

Prosperous for whom? Certainly not the working classes.

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