Communities face being 'swept away' without more action to regulate second home ownership, campaigners say

  • Watch the video report by ITV Wales journalist Rob Shelley

Communities in north Wales face being "swept away" by a huge increase in second home ownership, according to campaigners.

Growing demand for second homes and a sharp rise in house prices are pricing local people out of rural communities, they say.

The average house price in Wales is currently £228,410, according to the property website Rightmove.

Nationally Wales has seen the highest increase in the UK - 14.6% - in asking prices from March 2020, according to Rightmove's most recent House Price Index.

An increase in buyer demand was also highest in Wales, climbing by 44%.

Councillor Rhys Tudur, chair of Nefyn Town Council and who himself said he has been priced out of the market, said there was now a risk that some communities could lose their "very identity".

He said: "What we've seen now is a tsunami of second home purchases and if we're not careful the communities will be swept away.

"The Governments have to act decisively and regulate second homes properly.

"What we see nowadays is our terraced housing being bought as Airbnbs and now we're excluded from whole communities which is totally heartbreaking, it changes the culture and heritage, it changes the very identity of villages.

Wales has seen the highest rise in property buyer demand at 44%

"To buy a property here in Morfa Nefyn is something I cannot do at the present time, the prices are too expensive.

"The discrepancy between prices here in Morfa Nefyn and the villages in the same county, a bit more inland, is vast."

The areas in Wales where house prices are highest

According to Rightmove, mid-Wales is currently the most expensive area in the country for buying a house with the overall average property price standing at £230,020. Over the past year selling prices were up 21% on the previous year.

That is followed by south Wales where the overall average price is £209,822. Sales over the past year compared with the year before were up by 9%.

In the north, the average overall price stands at £203,708, also a 9% increase over the past year compared to the year before.

West Wales has the lowest average price of the country's regions at £202,374, although that represents a climb of 10%.

Dr Eilir Hughes, a GP who moved back to live on the Llyn Peninsula, said he felt the pandemic and changes to people's working lives had partially caused the surge in second home ownership.

"It's a perfect storm," he said.

"With everything that's happened, people can now live partly in this area and work from home but really they don't necessarily have to integrate."

Councillor Tudur said the lack of affordable and available properties was difficult to accept.

He said: "It's devastating, when you've been brought up in a community, felt an attachment to it, a love for it and you're unable to live in that very community [where] you've been brought up."

In response the Welsh Government said it was prioritising the issue in its recently-published Programme for Government.

A spokesperson said: "A new Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan is one of the main priorities of our Programme for Government, published last week.

"We will be working across Government and with stakeholders in developing the plan."