Protestors accuse Welsh Government of ‘dragging its feet’ over action to tackle second homes
Protestors have accused the Welsh Government of “dragging their feet” over legislation to protect Welsh communities from being overwhelmed by second homes.
At a rally at Llangefni on Anglesey today Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith called on the government to implement its promise to manage second homes and holiday accommodation in communities where young people cannot find a place to live.
Osian Jones, one of the organisers of the rally, said: “We held a rally in Llangefni today to launch the next steps of the Nid yw Cymru ar Werth (Wales is Not for Sale) campaign.
“Our intention is to encourage local authorities such as Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy to use the new powers that the Welsh Government is offering them to manage second homes and holiday accommodation to their full potential from April and to start the preparation for that now.
“Political will is on our side and a year of campaigning and pressure by people at a grass-roots level has led to measures that could make a difference.”
From next April county councils will have new powers to reduce the impact of second homes and holiday accommodation in their areas. There will be three new planning use classes – main home, second home and short term holiday accommodation.
Councils will be able to:
1. Control the number of second homes and holiday accommodation in any community;
2. Increase land transaction tax for second homes and holiday accommodation
3. Insist on planning permission for a change of use from one class to another.
But Osian Jones added that no guidelines or promises of funding to carry out all the work have been sent to local authorities yet.
“Classifying properties into categories so that the important proposal of requiring planning permission to change class of use will mean a significant amount of work; as will the work of gathering evidence of the need for planning permission,” he said.
“These new measures could make a real difference to our communities, so they need to be available to use straight away. We were therefore glad that Llinos Medi, leader of Anglesey Council, county councillors Arfon Wyn (Isle of Anglesey) and Aaron Wynne (Conwy) added their voioces to the call on the call on the Welsh Government to ensure that these proposals aren’t seen as empty promises.”
The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru proposals set out in July includes a 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 at the time: “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.”
Gwynedd Council’s cabinet is currently seeking a decision to hold a public consultation on the possible proposal to raise the premium beyond 100% and up to 300% for second homes and long-term empty properties– for the financial year 2023/24.
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