Welsh Government second homes clampdown must be enforceable says farming union
A change to planning legislation brought in by the Welsh Government to tackle the housing crisis and second homes must give local authorities the power to enforce it, a farming union has said.
The Welsh Government’s proposals would create new use classes for second homes and short-term lets which would enable local planning authorities to manage their development.
Homes would be designated primary homes, secondary homes and short-term holiday lets, and the numbers of secondary homes and short-term holiday lets would have to be taken into account when considering the housing requirements and policy approaches in Local Development Plans.
The Welsh Government’s consultation on the issue closes today.
FUW Senior Policy and Communications Officer Gareth Parry said they welcomed this approach but that “the Welsh Government must ensure that the criteria is strict enough to ensure they aren’t open to abuse”.
“There also remains a big question mark above how the Welsh Government proposes for Local Authorities to be able to effectively monitor and enforce such criteria,” he said.
The union said that while the proposed changes to use classes would allow Local Authorities to better distinguish between such dwellings, they had to be underpinned by changes to primary legislation in order to be effective in tackling the issues associated with second homes and short-term holiday lets.
“Amending primary legislation to ensure that it considers the change of use from a primary home to a secondary home or short-term holiday let as a ‘material change of use’ would ensure that such changes between use classes would always require planning permission,” Gareth Parry said.
“While amending Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 would require the passing of a Bill in the Senedd, the attention drawn to the impacts of second homes over the previous two years would suggest that representatives of rural and coastal constituencies would fully support such an amendment.
“We are also in support of ensuring that Planning Policy Wales takes the prevalence of second homes and short-term holiday lets in a local area into account when considering Local Development Plans, and providing Local Authorities with the option to restrict new homes to be used as primary dwellings.
“While the FUW has responded to the specific proposals set out in the consultation, we look forward to engaging with the Welsh Government as it consults on other recommendations set out in the ‘Second Homes: Developing new policies in Wales’ report and the ‘three pronged approach’ in future.”
On Saturday 1,200 people braved the elements in Aberystwyth at a rally to call on the Welsh Government to act on second homes and the housing crisis.
Addressing a crowd of 1200 at the Tynged yr Iaith (Fate of the Language) Rally, the Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Mabli Siriol, thanked everyone who came to Aberystwyth, despite the poor weather.
She said it shows how determined people are to stand up and fight for our communities.
The rally took place days before two Welsh Government consultations close on Tuesday. One is on planning legislation and policy for second homes, discussed above, and the other is on Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan.
The Cooperation Agreement between the Government and Plaid Cymru also includes commitments to cap the number of second and holiday homes in communities, introduce a tax on tourism and consider rent management.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that they recognize that these plans address some of their concerns, but called for a Property Act that would provide a home for everyone and strengthen communities and the Welsh language in all parts of the country.
“Following pressure from people from all over Wales, the Government launched two consultations, one on creating a new use class and the other on the Government’s Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan,” Mabli Siriol Jones, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said.
“Pressure has had an effect, and today’s intention is to keep the pressure. We need an effective Property Act that will take the housing and planning system out of the free market and put it under the democratic control of our communities.
“We held the rally today, on the 60th anniversary of the broadcast of Tynged yr Iaith, a lecture which inspired the founding of Cymdeithas yr Iaith later that year. We have won several campaigns since then, thanks to the work of ordinary people, and we are confident that we will win this fight as well. ”
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