Senior councillors back plans for 100% council tax premium on second homes and empty properties
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Senior councillors have voted in favour of charging a 100% council tax premium for both second and long-term empty homes from April 2024, which could rise to 200% from 2025.
The decision by Conwy Council’s cabinet must first be agreed by full council but includes an indicative premium level of 200% on both second homes and empty properties from April 1, 2025.
And that’s when an increased premium of 300% will be introduced for properties empty for five years or more will be introduced, subject to a review during 2024/2025.
The premium is intended to help bring long-term empty homes back into use, increase the supply of affordable housing, enhance the sustainability of communities, and help meet the county’s housing needs.
Cllr Nigel Smith said Welsh councils had had discretion to charge a premium on council tax since 2017.
Cllr Aaron Wynne added: “I think it is important that the council uses every weapon possible and raises the premium on empty homes.”
Cllr Ifor Lloyd said it was a necessary step to regenerate Conwy’s communities.
Cllr Chris Hughes said: “People seem to think this is a money-making exercise. It is not.
“The housing group was told last night there was almost 2,000 family units looking for affordable housing within our county.”
Cllr Geoff Stewart said: “I fully endorse this and completely support the recommendation.
“I live in a small rural village two and a half miles from the coast, and within six hundred yards of my own property, there are 15 properties either vacant or in second home ownership.
“That has grown substantially in the 47 years I’ve been here, and it’s getting worse, and it’s actually preventing young people staying in the village and finding homes and curtailing village life.”
He added: “What’s happening in my village is happening across the whole county.
“The danger is if we don’t take the action now, you will find neighbouring counties will have taken action, and it will become worse in our county.”
Council leader Charlie McCoubrey added: “I’m wholly supportive of this. It’s not the silver bullet.
“It’s not going to solve this problem, but it is part of the jigsaw.
“It is very hard for a first-time buyer to compete with someone who has got cash and who doesn’t have to sell a property to buy a property.”
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