Mark Drakeford and Adam Price plan to tackle second homes ‘a complete failure’ claims Conservative MS
Mark Drakeford and Adam Price’s plan to tackle second homes will be “a complete failure” if they do not focus on building new homes instead, a Conservative Senedd Member has said.
Aberconwy Senedd Member Janet Finch-Saunders, who is the co-owner of multiple properties and a long-term critic of the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru’s plan to further regulate holiday homes and holiday lets, said that the proposals set out by the two party leaders would not work.
Yesterday the First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader announced that local authorities will be allowed to control the number of second homes in communities as part of a new crackdown.
The First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader will also allow councils to require planning permission to change a house to a holiday let or second home. They will also require holiday lets to require a license to operate.
But Janet Finch-Saunders said that the policies would fail to achieve the aim of enabling people the opportunity to afford to live in their community.
“Adam Price speaks of his which to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’– the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up,” she said.
“Well, his so-called radical programme with Mark Drakeford is a complete failure.
“To put it short – this Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru plan is not going to, as the First Minister claims, ensure everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community.
“It’s not a cap on the number of second homes and holiday lets, new planning use classes, statutory licencing scheme, nor varying land transaction tax, that is going to address the housing crisis. They are simply more bureaucracy for the sake of providing a false façade that action is being taken to provide homes for locals.”
Janet Finch-Saunders called instead for a number of policies to be introduced:
- Addressing affordability by building more homes, with an emphasis on generating mixed communities and developing on the edge of crisis communities;
- Removing the block on as many as 10,000 new homes (including 1,700 affordable) due to NRW guidance on phosphorus;
- Working with our local authorities to better promote the Empty Home Loan;
- Reviewing what steps can be taken to convert empty space above retail units into affordable, centrally located housing;
- Amending TAN 6 to allow for children of farmers who live at home but work elsewhere to more easily gain planning permission to build homes on family land;
- Restoring the Right-to-Buy in Wales: building housing for locals on the edge of communities and reinvesting sale proceeds into more social housing and protecting homes from sale for 10 years.
The Welsh Conservatives also accused the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru of taking the first steps to a “tourism tax”.
Tom Giffard, shadow minister for culture, tourism and sport, said: “To me, this looks like the precursor to a tourism tax which will destroy the tourism sector in Wales and cost a huge number of jobs.
“Ministers must make sure that this scheme does not punish people who work hard to make our tourism businesses thrive, especially after the damage of pandemic restrictions.”
Under the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru proposals, a new licensing scheme for people who want to operate short-term holiday lets, such as Airbnb, is also planned.
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price made the announcement as made as part of their co-operation agreement.
The package of measures includes changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer, statutory licensing scheme for all holiday lets and plans for local authorities to increase land transaction tax rates on second homes and holiday lets.
Local authorities have already been given the power to increase council tax on second homes by 300% from next year.
Mr Drakeford said: “We are today setting out the next steps in a radical programme to ensure everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community – whether that’s buying or renting a home.
“We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities – a country where people do not have to leave to find good and rewarding work and a country which people want to come to visit and to live.
“Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.
“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”
The package of measures being announced today includes:
- Changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer. These will introduce three new planning use classes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities, where they have evidence, will be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another.
- The Welsh Government will also introduce changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.
- Plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. This will help raise standards across the tourism industry.
- Following a consultation about varying land transaction tax locally in areas with large numbers of second homes, work will start today (Monday 4 July) with local authorities to develop a national framework so they can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local area.
The Welsh Government have already confirmed that they will 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.
Mr Price said: “We are committed to using a range of planning, taxation and property levers to tackle the issue of second and unaffordable homes – and to do so with urgency.
“The package of purposeful measures that have been developed as a result of the constructive cooperation between Plaid Cymru and the Government in this area will, together, begin to address the injustices in our housing system and make a real difference to people and communities right across our nation.
“The aim is to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’– the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up.”
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