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Licensing system needed to stem ‘alarming’ rise in second homes, says Plaid Cymru MP

05 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
Liz Saville Roberts MP (CC BY 3.0)

A new licensing system should be introduced to stem the “alarming” increase of second homes and holiday lets in rural Wales.

The impassioned plea came from Liz Saville Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader who represents Dwyfor Meirionnydd, in a film shown in Channel 4’s Political Slot.

The party’s three-pronged policy for tackling the crisis also includes requiring Council Tax to be levied on all properties, with second homes no longer qualifying for business rates.

The approach would also require planning permission before homes could be converted into holiday lets.

She filmed outside a former chapel, Bethania, at Pistyll, near Nefyn, which local campaigners failed to save after it was put up for auction.

Auction House UK had advertised the property in Pistyll on the Llŷn peninsula as a “holiday home” in an advert that draws attention to its seaside position. Planning is already in place for a four-bedroom holiday home on the site.

They refused to allow a local community group enough time to raise money to buy the property which is also known as Capel Tom Nefyn Williams in memory of the poet and preacher.

‘Historic chapel’ 

Ms Saville Roberts said: “Capel Bethania here in Pistyll holds a special place in the hearts of the local community. It was built by the community itself.

“This historic chapel was recently sold for £257,000, complete with planning permission to turn it into a holiday let.

“Despite the tireless efforts of campaigners to keep it as an asset it will no longer play a role in the community that originally built it.

“House prices are rising at an alarming rate in communities all over Wales.

“The pandemic has played a part in this crisis – with people looking for an escape to the countryside from the cramped cities. With these beautiful views – who can blame them.

“But its impact on the people who make their lives here has reached breaking point.

“Average house prices in parts of Gwynedd are nearing £500,000. Yet, wages here are among the lowest in the UK.

“As a result, once vital Welsh-speaking communities are turning into a part-time playground for rich holidaymakers.

“This has now escalated to a point where communities face a collapse in the supply of housing. The demand for social housing outstrips supply.

“And the sheer volume of second homes and buy-to-let properties is pushing out local families.”

‘Crisis’ 

She added: “Unless it’s tackled, the crisis will leave in its wake a lost generation of young people forced to leave their square mile due to being priced out of the area in which they were born and raised.

“To resolve this crisis Plaid Cymru believes that the Welsh Government needs to make three important changes.

“Firstly, that all houses should pay Council Tax and second homes should no longer qualify for business rates.

“At a single stroke, this would bring extra funds into our communities.

“Secondly, you should need planning permission to turn homes into holiday lets.

“And finally, we need a licensing system to keep a balance on the type of properties in the community so that there are houses for local people to buy and rent.

“If something isn’t done about this crisis now , we may well see further depopulation and yet more of our young people leaving these area.

“Our villages will become clusters of empty boxes. Essential services in rural areas will become more and more to provide as key workers such as carers and teaching assistants simply cannot afford to live near enough to where they work.

“These communities are the cradle of the Welsh language’s culture and heritage, yet they run the risk of becoming the leisure retreat of the privileged.

“Everyone must have the right to live at home.”

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Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
2 months ago

Something needs to be done and soon, this has been going on for decades.

Will Jones
Will Jones
2 months ago

Someone needs to sort it out quickly. If they don’t, Mebion Glyndwr will. They were *extremely* effective last time as I recall.

Ex Plaid member
Ex Plaid member
2 months ago

The same politicians thinking the same way will continue to give the same result.
Should we accept that 40 years of denial, underinvestment in education, infrastructure and productivity means its too late for rural Wales? I so hope not, but suspect its unmanaged decline from here on in.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
2 months ago

Who was able to sell the chapel for £257000? The members? If so then shame on them.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  Phil Jones

I don’t think members can sell a chapel Phil

Beth N"Hoona
Beth N"Hoona
2 months ago
Reply to  Phil Jones

Probably a local who speculated on it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Beth N"Hoona
R W
R W
2 months ago

As things stand, we are witnessing many of our villages being turned into glorified holiday parks before our very eyes. Unfortunately, Mark Drakeford”s government seems to be all mouth and no trousers on this issue.

j humphrys
j humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  R W

Drakeford, I believe, is a very able man. If he found courage to take us to independence, Wales is in the mood to get behind him. We shall see, but he should do it real soon, ‘cos the fuse is burning!

Last edited 2 months ago by j humphrys
R W
R W
2 months ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Unfortunately, Mark Drakeford seems to be a dyed in the wool unionist and I can”t see that changing any time soon(if ever).

Gruffydd Williams
Gruffydd Williams
2 months ago

Gyda phob ddyledus barch i chdi Liz tydi’r 3 pwint yna ddim am gyfarch y problemau diboblogi a chwalfa’r cymunedau Cymraeg . Cyffwrdd a’r broblem yr wyt yn y fan yma gan osgoi y gwir broblem . Hynny i’w does dim un o’r argymhellion a leiswyd yma yn datrys Tai Haf. Mae yna deirgwaith yn fwy o dai haf nag sydd o letyau gwyliau. Mai’n sobor iawn arna ni pan mae Plaid Cymru yn galw ar fesurau gwantan sy’n cyfarch ymylon y broblem yn hytrach na herio’r drefn oddifri a gofyn wrth LLywodraeth Cymru a Cyngor Gwynedd am newid sy’n… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 months ago

Liz Saville Roberts’ idea sounds an excellent start. I hope that the WG will take this up and apply it across Wales. However, more needs to be done across the board. My county of Conwy is also experiencing major housing problems. Young people don’t stand a chance of buying a home here now as prices are far beyond their earnings. Even with a 5% deposit scheme it is untenable. E.g. for a house of £160K, 5% is £8K. What young person has that amount of money? The so-called ‘affordable housing’ (which are actually not that affordable) are being snapped up… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Mr Williams
Martin Owen
Martin Owen
2 months ago

The housing and underspend on infrastructure is not a problem that is unique to Y Bro. Surprisingly the earnings/price ratio for Gwynedd is below the national average – although at 6.7 it is still scandalous. I grew up in village and later small town in north Wales were there was massive house building- . even though a lot of it went to retirees from our industrial neighbours. It was surrounded by holiday parks too. Somehow both village and town continue to support thriving Welsh medium primary schools. To have a thriving linguistic community you have to work to build a… Read more »

Terry
Terry
2 months ago

Any thoughts on the issue that only 15 council homes have been built since 1991 by Welsh councils, (2020)? Instead find easy targets to point fingers at and then usual story, Tax and Tax again, that will solve the issue. Wales has some of the oldest properties in Europe and needs new energy efficient homes. To presume that stopping people buying 2 homes will just make it all go away is not really an answer. Licencing and Taxing only increases the holiday make to go elsewhere. Holiday parks yes indeed, I am not allowed to have a business unless I… Read more »

Cymro newydd
Cymro newydd
2 months ago

I passed by that chapel in Pistyll, and thought maybe a permanent large sign should be erected outside documenting the current situation, in order to shame developers and/or inform visitors.

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