Seeking a fair balance between 2nd homes and homes for locals

Posted on: 24th November 2014

Seeking a fair balance between 2nd homes and homes for locals is vital if we are to ensure our towns and villages are vibrant and sustainable. None of us want to live in a community where, in the winter, it is like a ghost town. Whilst Tourism is vital to our economy, there has to be a balance to ensure sufficient people can afford to live in our communities to sustain the everyday shops, schools and other community facilities. However, we have to be careful not to jump to solutions, otherwise we can create new problems instead of just solving the original ones.

Andrew George, our local M.P, has been campaigning in Westminster and locally for years. He has been seeking a way to control permanent homes leaking to become second homes and a viable way to charge a levy on 2nd homes. More recently, he has been working on these very issues, and addressing the unfairness of the bedroom tax, through his Affordable Homes Bill George pressing on with his policy to cap second homes. Sadly, the Conservative M.Ps now and Labour M.Ps in the previous Government, have not supported him.

At Full Council last week we were due to discuss the motion below, the product of the Homes and Communities Portfolio Advisory Committee working on this conundrum. Sadly the budget discussion over ran so the item got deferred. I shall ask whether there is a way of the Cabinet taking the action rather than waiting for next Full Council as that will delay important work getting under way. I was the proposer of the amended motion below.

  1. That a letter be sent by the Leader of the Council to the Prime Minister and relevant Cabinet Minister requesting that:

(i) A new planning use class be introduced for residential properties not occupied continuously by the same household.

(ii) A change in the use of a residential property from one in continuous occupation by the same household to one not occupied continuously by the same household and vice versa would be ‘Permitted Development’ and not require Planning Permission.

(iii) In areas where there are evidenced negative impacts on the sustainability of communities, due to the proportion of nonpermanently occupied residential properties, the Local Planning Authority would be able to introduce an Article 4 Direction which would restrict permitted development rights. A change from continuous occupation by the same household would then require a planning permission.

  1. That this Council commits to working with other Councils, Local Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Local Government Association (LGA) to explore and propose an effective way of introducing a sustainable communities levy on second homes.
  2. That a progress report be brought back to the Homes and Communities Portfolio Advisory Committee (H&C PAC) in 4 – 6 months’ time following the work referred to in 2. above being explored.

Hopefully Cornwall Council can put pressure on the Government to support Andrew George and other LibDems, like Tim Farron, to get something done to balance our communities.