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Language campaigners welcome council’s action on second homes

23 Jan 2021 4 minutes Read
New Quay where a quarter of the houses are second homes. Picture by Heikki Immonen (CC BY 3.0).

Language campaigners have welcomed Ceredigion Council’s intention to take action on the housing crisis in the county.

Councillors have called for a planning clause requiring approval before turning a residential home into a holiday home.

They also want to add a maximum threshold of holiday lets in any one area and including a requirement for permission before changing a second home into a holiday or AirBnB business.

At a plenary meeting of Council yesterday (21st January), Council leader Ellen ap Gwynn requested that a scrutiny committee discuss the motion at its next meeting and report back before the next cabinet meeting in February.

Councillor Mark Strong outlined the need for action at yesterday’s meeting, saying that Ceredigion has the fourth-highest percentage of holiday homes of all the counties in Wales (at 5.91%), with this percentage increasing to just over 26% in Cei Newydd ward.

“There’s plenty of evidence that holiday homes that go out of control can be detrimental to communities, especially coastal communities,” he said.

Council leader, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn, who had seconded the original motion, added her “100 per cent” support to Cllr Strong.

 

‘Huge problem’

A spokesperson on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Communities Group, Jeff Smith, said that Ceredigion County Council officials had worked very hard over Christmas exploring different ways to resolve the housing crisis in the county.

“Second homes are a huge problem in Ceredigion and it is good to see that the Council is planning to take action,” Jeff Smith said.

“The Council leader, Ellenn ap Gwynn, made it clear at the meeting that this issue needs to be acted upon – this kind of political will by the Council is undoubtedly to be welcomed. The Council’s Healthier Communities Committee now needs to discuss the proposal before the Cabinet meets next month.

“The crisis is a national problem. As part of our ‘Mwy Na Miliwn’, (‘More than a million’) policy vision for the next Senedd election, we propose a package of policies that should be implemented in order to solve the current crisis.

“For example, a Property Act should be introduced that will give communities control over the housing market and secure a local home for all.

“The next Government also needs to cap the percentage of second homes in any given community, control rent prices so they are affordable for people on local incomes and introduce a super-tax for landlords which would go towards investing in bringing empty homes and second homes back to community use.

“Now is the time for all political parties to pledge to introduce a Property Act in the next Senedd term and decide, for once, to prioritise communities, not capitalism.”

‘Threshold’

Councillor Mark Strong, who wrote a motion on the matter, called on Ceredigion Council to:
  • “Ask the Welsh Government to give urgent attention to changing the planning legislation to include the right for our development control committees to control the number of properties being removed from their local housing stock as well as the use of casual visitors.”
  • “Join with other counties in calling on the Welsh Government to give county councils the power to manage second homes by putting rules in place that prevent the conversion of dwellings to holiday homes without planning permission.
  • “Ask the Welsh Government to enable county councils to introduce a threshold of a number of holiday homes per ward.”
  • “Ask the Welsh Government to stop owners from changing second homes into businesses to avoid paying council tax.”

 

 

 

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