Second homes: How one £1m Norfolk village is cracking down on holiday lets

  • Watch Natalie Gray's report from Burnham Market - aka "Chelsea-on-Sea"

A picturesque village nicknamed “Chelsea-on-Sea” has become the latest to crack down on holiday lets.

The average home in Burnham Market in north Norfolk is worth £1 million, which locals say is pricing young people out of living where they grew up.

Residents in the village have voted overwhelmingly in favour of new measures that will make it harder for people to build or convert residences into holiday lets. 

One in four properties in Burnham Market are thought to be second homes, with wealthy Londoners having bought property there to use as holiday homes or rentals.

Alex Davies, who works in the village as a fishmonger, said: "It's pretty hard when you see people spending so much money when you can't spent the same yourself.

The average house price in Burnham Market is £1m. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I love my work but it's daunting watching people coming in here everyday spending £60, £70, £80, just on fish.

"It's hard for the people working in the village. I mean I haven't got half a million pounds and that's what I'd need to find somewhere to live. It's a lot of money."

Burnham Market’s average prices for houses and rents have soared in recent years, with the village standing just a mile from the spectacular North Norfolk coast.

Spencer Cushing, an estate agent at Sowerbys, said: “It’s everyone’s idea of a beautiful bucolic English scene.

“Naturally when somewhere is so popular as a holiday destination but also as a general day out, it attracts a great deal of interest and naturally that replicates in house prices.”

Aerial image of Burnham Market Credit: ITV News Anglia

The new neighbourhood plan from West Norfolk Council proposes that all new developments would be required to be 'principal residences' and a ban on existing homes being turned into holiday retreats.

The council said these actions would be enforceable through the planning process.

The plan was put to the electorate on 21 September and 80 per cent voted in favour - a much higher total than the 50 per cent needed for it to come into force.

Dennis Clark, chairman of Burnham Market Parish Council said: "It's gone too far. We've seen a 20 per cent drop in the population here - the people that actually live here, year round.

"There's been a big growth in people that come as visitors, which of course we welcome, but they're coming to stay in furnished holiday lets and people's second homes and as a consequence, we've neglected low-cost homes."

Local business owners have also seen an impact, as staff recruitment and retention can be a problem when people cannot afford to live where they work.

Alex Davies said he could not see a way he would be able to buy a home in Burnham Market. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Hoste Arms, a hotel and restaurant, employs around 60 staff, but only one of them actually lives in the village. 

As a result, some staff are offered accommodation. 

West Norfolk Council will use the new neighbourhood plan to guide all planning decisions for the village.

Other popular tourist areas have complained about the impact of second homes and holiday lets.

Cornwall will make second homeowners pay a double council tax premium once government legislation is passed. 

The average house price in Burnham Market is now £1 million Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will give local authorities extra powers to make second home owners pay twice the amount of council tax, with the changes expected by early 2025. 

Additionally, in April the government announced proposals for planning permission to be required for existing homes to be used as a short term let.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said this would help support local people in areas where high numbers of holiday lets are stopping them from finding affordable housing.

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