Who wouldn’t want to stay in a place like Southwold? A seaside town full of history and charm. But sixty percent of properties in the town are now second homes. And it’s having a massive impact on the town.
David Beavan is a councillor and campaigner. He says second homes have destroyed the housing market for local people.
“It’s gutting the community. We’ve only got 800 people left living here. We’ve lost our police station, our fire station, and the community is just dying. We just want the sounds of children playing on the greens again.”
Second homes have driven property prices up and local people out. On average properties are 21 times the local salary.
Adrian Smith is a local estate agent.
“It’s very rare we sell a property to a young family who can actually move into the town. hey are looking further out to the villages where you get better value. It’s unaffordable in the town itself.”
Cllr Beavan says not enough affordable homes are being built to accommodate those who want to live in the town. Something the council disputes, saying there are now over 100 council-managed homes in the town, which meet demand.
And expensive land also means pricey business rates. James Scott runs a small high street restaurant.
“In the winter time there’s no one here. I have to take £3,500 a month just to tread water. That’s an enormous amount for a small business like mine.”
Second homes have made this a wealthy area. But it’s not a wealth that can be enjoyed by local people. And the real cost is potentially one the town can ill afford.