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Power to forbid second homes backed by council

10 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Conwy castle, town and suspension bridge viewed from Conwy Mountain. Picture by Roj (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Richard Evans Local Democracy Reporter

A council cabinet has backed a new Welsh Government power that would give the council the ability to stop people converting homes into holiday properties.

At a meeting this week, Conwy ’s cabinet discussed ‘article four’, a Welsh Government direction that means buyers would need planning permission to use a home as a second home or holiday let.

The power is intended to stop Welsh communities being reduced to holiday home villages owned by people living away by raising house prices to unobtainable levels for locals. Consequently, Conwy’s cabinet debated whether the new power should be accepted as policy to be included in the council’s next replacement local development plan.

“Controversial issue”

Conwy’s economy relies heavily on tourism, and councillors accepted it was a controversial issue. The report said an acceptable 10-20% threshold of holiday homes in a community had been suggested.

Whilst Conwy has no areas at 15% or above, Llanddoged and Maenan, Pentrefoelas, Bro Garmon, Caerhun, and Trefriw had proportions above 10%. The cabinet had several options, including doing nothing, but voted in favour of the officers’ recommendation of adopting the new policy.

Leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey explained: “To keep it really simple, if I tomorrow decided to turn my house into a second home or holiday home, I could do so.

“Clearly in some areas that’s not an issue, but we do have a housing crisis, and we know in some areas there is a really high percentage of second homes.

“So this is a planning restriction that prevents people from doing that, but that is quite a big, serious step to take. It has to be legally challenged.

“It removes the right for me to sell my house to whoever I want, if they want to turn it into a second home. So it is quite a controversial item.

“I don’t think it is a silver bullet to solve our housing crisis, but this is part of a suite of things we can do in areas where there are concerns.” He added: “A lot of work has been done in Gwynedd to progress this, but it definitely isn’t straightforward, and this is definitely something that would require a lot more debate, a lot more consideration, and I would suggest a lot more data on the impact and the effect and the statistics.

“All we are asking is for this being included as part of our future replacement local development plan.”

Conwy Quay. Image: Hefin Owen

Cllr McCoubrey then said it was something Conwy could add to its armoury and the conversation whether to ‘do it or not do it’ could be left for another day. Cllr Julie Fallon said Conwy could look at other local authorities and the impact article four was having in those counties in terms of housing.

“Crisis”

She said: “Obviously we don’t want to discourage people from buying a second home here, but equally we need to make sure that, as those things move through, it doesn’t increase the cost for any locals trying to buy properties. So this is good.

“It means we are not excluding it altogether, but we are keeping it there as an option that, should we need it moving forward, that opportunity is there.

“It is keeping it in our armoury so that, especially in specific areas, where we have issues, we could look at this as an option.”

Cllr Aaron Wynne added: “Something as complex as a housing crisis isn’t going to be solved in one change in policy, but I do agree that we need to agree on this today.

“It provides an opportunity to look at the policy and how such a policy would work in Conwy. Any policy needs to be watertight and particularly in planning terms, and I think we are going around this in the right way.”

Cllr McCoubrey proposed cabinet backed the recommendation. This was seconded by Cllr Fallon, and cabinet voted unanimously in favour of the report.


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 month ago

This needs very local input. There should be a distinction between second homes, holiday lets air B&B etc and vacant properties owned by locals working on sea in the forces etc. Obvious properties suitable for family residential use should be low priority for licensing whereas heritage properties o op green small ie unsuitable for modern residential use but ideal for holiday summer residence should favoured. You get the idea.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago

‘The power is intended to stop Welsh communities being reduced to holiday home villages owned by people living away by raising house prices to unobtainable levels for locals’. A nice bit of casual xenophobia there. “It removes the right for me to sell my house to whoever I want, if they want to turn it into a second home. So it is quite a controversial item’. I know the councillor is talking about second homes, but the first sentence could have the potential of evolving into a policy beyond second homes. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that… Read more »

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

I struggle to see how the need to protect communities in this country from homelessness or from the need to leave their local area can be described as “xenophobia”, unless of course you are claiming that there is a clause in the proposal that deliberately targets one particular nationality.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rhosddu
Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

I’ am not talking about homelessness or people leaving the local area, the later you will find is caused by other reasons.

I’ am talking about the framing of the statement, ‘Welsh communities’ …. ‘owned by people living away’. We know what the council is insinuating, but they cannot bring themselves to say it. It is an incomplete statement anyway because many holiday homes are owned by local Welsh people. The council would not want to say that ‘Welsh communities are being reduced to holiday homes villages owned’ by fellow Welsh people. Easier to blame outsiders.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

“many holiday homes are owned by local Welsh people. “

What does “many” amount to?
Please provide the source of the evidence that backs up your statement.
Diolch.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

My source is looking through many Airbnb hosts of homes on Anglesey. Together with individuals who list there homes on websites such as Sykes, Booking.com etc who also have there own personal website. Many of these people like I said are Welsh people.

Last edited 1 month ago by Swn Y Mor
CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

You must have done a lot of investigating as according to airbnb there are over a 1000 airbnb options on Ynys Mon.
But it’s still an unquantified “many” though.

Also how are you defining “local Welsh people”.
.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

I never claimed to have investigated every single listing. As far as unquantified, unless I have missed it, there does not appear to have been an in depth study into the origin of holiday homes owners in Wales. As a result, and someone with limited resources, I attempted to fill in some of the gaps.

As for local Welsh people, these are people living near the holiday home/rental that they own.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

I agree with every word. Second home owners are being blamed for everything and anything to do with the housing crisis. Yes, in a small number of instances there are way too many second homes in a particular village. Nevertheless, the vast number of communities across Cymru are not affected by second homes.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

From the Guardian website “The government scrapped tax breaks for holiday homes in the budget and last month unveiled a registration scheme to help councils control the booming holiday let market, which Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, claims is denying local people the opportunity to buy or rent a home.” So your logic on what’s xenophobic would therefore apply to a Devonshire local authority seeking to influence the purchase of holiday homes by people from Surrey. The application of the xenophobe/racist trope when Cymru tries to put the needs of the people of Cymru before the needs of people from England is… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

I think there is a little difference between Surrey to Devonshire (England to England), and ‘Welsh communities .. people living away’ and you know that. Why does the council even need to say ‘Welsh communities’ when we know where the council is based? Your last paragraph gives the game away and it reacts just as the council intended. ‘Before the needs of people from England’. Who said anything about English people’?, I thought these people coming to Wales were just outsiders from anywhere?. The Daily Mail really do not really care or are interested about Wales. The only time we… Read more »

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=27611

The second home issue effects communities across the UK. We are able to refer to “Welsh communities” because of the Yma o Hyd effect, Presumably if a version of Yma o Hyd existed in Devon it’s county council would be referring to Wessexian communities.

My last paragraph refers to a xenophobe/racist trope as implied and suggested by the Daily Mail et al. See link below and many others in the same vein.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12369089/Were-forced-sell-holiday-homes-council-tax-raids-Second-home-owners-lose-properties-Welsh-beauty-spots-levy-rises-300-CENT.html

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Can you point me to where a trope is implied in the daily mail article? I have read and re read and I can’t see it.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

For the two examples of second home owners affected the Daily Mail chose –

At the time he [Ian Kiddle}and his wife Julie, 59, lived in Bournemouth but longed for the feel of a small countryside village

Angela Judd, 48, who currently lives in Warwickshire but owns a cottage in Snowdonia, is also considering selling up due to the new rules.”

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

I’ am afraid I still do not understand. You said ‘my last paragraph refers to a xenophobic/racist trope as implied and suggested by the Daily Mail et al. See link below and many others in the same vein’. I read your two examples and I still do not see it.

I see a couple living in England wanting ‘the feel of a small countryside village’, and another person who owns a second home in Wales but is selling up due to the new restrictions.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

The Daily Mail chose not to illustrate their article with examples of Welsh owners of holiday homes but rather English owners.
You keep saying that “many” holiday homes are owned by local Welsh people so it should not have been that difficult.
My contention is that doing so would not have served the trope.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

I do not see why you are combining what I looked for, and that of the Daily Mail. If the Daily Mail could not be bothered to interview a Welsh holiday home operator than that is not my fault. Still I am not seeing any supposed xenophobia here. Maybe we will have to agree to disagree.

Its funny how you focus on my use of the word ‘many’, when you did the same. If I were to be awkward I would be asking apart from the Daily Mail, where are ‘the many others in the same vein’?

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

I think this is a good idea. IMO the maximum threshold of holiday homes should be 10% not 20%!

I disagree with Cllr Julie Fallon, we do want to discourage people from buying a second (third, fourth…) home.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Davies
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

I would suggest that 5% would be a better proportion, if indeed any at all are acceptable? Campsites and other serviced accommodation should suffice for those who wish to visit.

Alun
Alun
25 days ago

How many SOCIAL homes have Conwy built in the last 3 years . We need more social development but we need proper jobs too.

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