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Second homes should be ‘compulsorily’ bought back and given to local people, says Pembrokeshire councillor

10 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
Tenby where Michael Williams is councillor. Photo by Beata Mitręga on Unsplash

A councillor has said that second homes should be “compulsorily” bought back by local authorities so that they can provide homes for local people.

Tenby Councillor Michael Williams said that while he welcomed the ‘Wales is not for Sale’ campaign, parts of Wales had already been sold and “must be reclaimed”.

Without “drastic action” communities would become “unrecognizable” with “irreparable damage” done, he told the Narberth & Whitland Observer.

“I asked the Local Authority to investigate the possibility of the compulsory purchase of second homes of the type that would suit first time buyers, and the current law will I hope be changed to facilitate this,” he said.

“There are many small properties within the conservation area which until fairly recently were occupied by local families, they should be purchased following a valuation by the District Valuers office and offered to young local families, with a mortgage offered by the Local Authority at preferential rates.

“Without what might be perceived as quite drastic action, our community will be changed and become unrecognizable, even if it continues to exist.

“I welcome the campaign ‘Wales is not for sale’ – the situation in Tenby is that it has been sold, and it must be reclaimed.

“In the infamous Act of Union of 1536 there is included a word rarely heard these days, ‘Extirpation’. This was meant to ensure the total destruction of the Welsh language. Perhaps it could be applied to second homes?”

‘No roots’

Michael Williams however added that while second homes were a problem for the Welsh language they were destroying non-Welsh speaking communities too.

“It is not only a Welsh language issue although the damage being done to Welsh language communities is catastrophic, even outside these areas irreparable damage is being done too often to what is a unique culture and way of life,” he said.

“Our social, cultural and economic life is being eroded by this influx of individuals who know nothing of our history, who move here because they say they love the area and within very few years campaign to change our basic values.

“An example of this might be the Tenby dog ban recently suggested to the town council by a person who doesn’t even reside in the County and appears to have no roots here!

“We are gullible enough to allow them to inveigle themselves into positions, without offering themselves for public election, where they can inflict their often alien values upon the local communities.”

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that the Welsh Government is likely to announce some proposals on tackling the housing crisis by the end of the month.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Supplement programme on Sunday, the First Minister said that he “expects the Cabinet to have a paper before the end of this month drawing together all those ideas and giving us some practical proposals to consider”.

“Some listeners will know that an important report on this whole issue was published in March by Dr. Simon Brooks in Swansea University.

“We hope to respond to that report this month as well, and make a series of recommendations aimed at not just the Welsh Government but local authorities as well.

“So there’s a lot of activity going on in this area. What I said in my first speech in the Senedd was nobody has a monopoly of ideas or wisdom on this topic, and when we come forward with our proposals we’ll want to discuss them with others.

“And see if there are any other ideas that we could add to that repertoire, to strengthen the protections that are available in those local communities where, if we’re not careful, people who were born, brought up, and want to make their futures in those parts of Wales, simply find that that’s not possible for them.”

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Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

Speed the day when we find a leader with enough courage. Probably after Indy.

Jonathan Edwards
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Sorry Quornby, we’ll have to show the courage BEFORE Indy, in order to get Indy. ie (1) recognise that we live in shame if we live at the bottom of economic league tables and (2) accept that we are going to have to confront Westminster (and Labour Unionists and perhaps ourselves) before we get Indy.
Noone said running your own country was an easy woke paradise

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
5 months ago

Various fixes have been advocated for the housing crisis. These include Mr Williams’ compulsory purchase proposal (in this article), & a Jersey-style quota system, & statutorily banning crazy loan-to-value ratios in mortgages (as in some other countries), & rent-caps, and a requirement for buyers to tangibly demonstrate their commitment to the local community (e.g. local language engagement as in some parts of Switzerland) or a requirement for buyers to be already resident in the jurisdiction for a set minimum time. I haven’t studied the subject closely enough to say which fix I prefer, but it would be interesting to see… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Hannergylch

No single fix will do. It will need a composite approach embracing many of those ideas that you mention. It will also need modification as we move forward as circumstances will change and wide boys always find ways around well meaning rules, and those rules sometimes have unintended consequences. Complex, but that’s no excuse for not acting.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
5 months ago

Hopefully the threat of compulsorily purchase will put many off buying second homes.

Josh Foster
Josh Foster
5 months ago

Ah yes, compulsory purchase, that renowned mechanism for bringing down land prices. Nuts.

Drew
Drew
5 months ago
Reply to  Josh Foster

Nuts? It’s perfect because the greedy f…. will have to go elsewhere to rob the hopes of young people. I guess you’re a second home owner.

Josh Foster
Josh Foster
5 months ago
Reply to  Drew

No, I’m not. I’m just not economically illiterate

T R
T R
5 months ago

About time. Best idea ever

Susan
Susan
5 months ago

Hi I agree that something must be done. But compulsory buying back. Is that really viable. Can the council afford it. Are the homes out of reach as far as being able to get a mortgage ( even with favourable rate assistance) due to the high cost of the property in relation to how much the local family can afford. What is the true economic impact on lack of tourism spending if these people aren’t coming with their ‘holiday money’. Cleaning and gardening jobs. Housing management jobs. Lack of sale for decor stores. Grocery stores. Nick -nack, antique, boutique places..… Read more »

Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis
5 months ago

Seems to me that if local folks sell to outsiders, then they only have themselves to blame for the decline of their communities. I’ve watched it happen in my own village for 60yrs.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Lewis

In which case, local control of the housing market, for instance through the Jersey system, is the way to go. And a cap on percentages of holiday homes. The aim should be to prevent future holiday home purchases rather than merely making it more difficult.

Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis
5 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

I agree with you, make 2nd homes illegal or tax so heavily that they become unaffordable. In Pembrokeshire where I live, it’s not uncommon to hear the people who complain that they don’t know anyone in the village, stand at the bar in the pub and boast about how much they sold granny’s cottage for, to some “daft” English bloke. On the other hand the amounts of money to be made are life changing for some families. It’s a problem that has been kicked around since the seventies but I can’t see it being sorted out anytime soon.

Louise Hibbert
Louise Hibbert
5 months ago

It seems like there needs to be a differentiation between the different uses and then controlled accordingly. Second homes should just be banned as they only increase the gap between rich and poor. Holiday homes that increase tourism could be capped at a certain percentage and homes that will be permanently rented to locals are perhaps ok as they are needed for locals unable to buy.

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