Rural Services Network will be making its members’ views known on the Government’s consultation on holiday lets

The Government’s consultation on holiday lets is due to close this week and the Rural Services Network will be making its members’ views known

The consultation, launched last month by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, proposes introducing planning permission for an existing home to start to be used as a short term let.  It is hoped that the changes will help support local people in areas where high numbers of holiday lets are preventing them from finding affordable housing, an argument supported by Luke Pollard (Lab/Co-op, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) in the recent Commons debate.

“…the basic premise is that the Government are clearly not listening to the needs of rural and coastal communities because the level of action that is required is not being implemented.

“We need to be honest about the scale of the housing crisis in rural and coastal communities, be honest that the pandemic turbocharged that housing crisis, and be honest about what needs to be done to change it. That is really important. There are too many people in rural and coastal communities, such as those I represent in Plymouth, who are being turfed out of their homes and seeing those homes being flipped immediately into Airbnb’s with astronomical rates.

“That is why we also propose a “last shop in the village” fund, created through a levy on empty second homes, that would help to support the last shop in a village, the last pharmacy, the last post office, the last pub or the last bus route. When those facilities go, communities are hollowed out. The community infrastructure that gels a community together and brings people together is lost and cannot be easily replaced.”

The debate in the House of Commons also focussed on how a planning system could be designed to ensure local communities are empowered.

Duncan Baker (Con, North Norfolk) argues the case that local authorities should be the decision-making body in this issue:

“It is right that local authorities, which know the areas better than anybody else, be given the planning tools to help. When we double council tax on second homes, we should think about district councils. Mine receives only 8p in the pound to help the areas that receive that double taxation. Those local authorities should be able to take that money back. I know the Treasury does not like hypothecated revenue, but we should help those local authorities by giving them that money—it is worth £8.2 million in North Norfolk—to build more affordable homes to rent and to buy, so that they can help the communities affected.”

Infrastructure remains a key concern for MPs and the challenges rural communities face when attracting and retaining key workers.  Derek Thomas (Con, St Ives) wants to see the issue addressed across Government departments:

“Like other Cornish MPs who are here today, I speak to NHS managers who are unable to persuade carers, nurses or dentists to relocate to west Cornwall, and to Cornwall generally, because they cannot afford to live there. I speak to businesses that want to expand, but that have the same difficulty with attracting staff. By taking action on holiday lets, we will not just level up on housing; we will also level up on health disparities and economic disparities.”

You can read the full debate here and there is still time to have your say on the consultations.

The consultations close on 7th June


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