'House prices will fall' claim campaigners fighting Gwynedd Council's proposed second home rules

  • Video report by ITV Wales' Joanne Gallacher

Campaigners in north Wales are calling for Gwynedd Council to reconsider a controversial planning proposal.

The local authority is in the process of deciding if it should introduce 'Article 4,' a move which would mean planning permission would be required to make a house a second home or holiday home.

Implementing Article 4, "would be a first for a planning authority in Wales" says Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Cyngor Gwynedd Cabinet Member for the Environment.

He said: “As a Council we are firmly of the view that it is a step that should be considered as part of a wider package of measures to address the housing crisis we face in Gwynedd.”

The council finished consulting on the proposals at the end of September 2023. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

But those against the introduction of the restriction say it would impact tourism and could hit house prices in Gwynedd, something the council agrees is possible.

Jeremy Davies lives just outside Porthmadog, in Borth-y-Gest. He told ITV News "I'm very worried about the consequences that this blanket policy will have on the residence and on the local economy.

"It effectively creates a two-tier market; those properties that are already second homes or short-term holiday lets will stay at a higher premium. Whereas the residential property will decrease.

Jeremy said he understands to need to protect local communities and cultures, but said Article 4 was not the way to do it.

He added, "This will affect elderly people who may have to sell their properties for care, it would affect young people who are struggling to find a mortgage, and even people who want to sell their property as an equity release will struggle to find a company that is willing to do that."

The proposal put forward by Gwynedd Council does acknowledge that introducing Article 4 "would have a (possibly minimal) effect on the value of the property on the open market."

The council says that this could be "equivalent to 95% of its value on the open market", a 5 percent reduction.

The campaign group, People of Gwynedd Against Article 4, says it is impossible to predict the size of the decrease and research they have carried out, points to a much larger drop.

Gwynedd Council has already imposed a council tax premium of 150% on second homes, which came into force in April 2023.

What is Article 4?

If you own a home, you have some basic rights to make changes to it, these are called Permitted Development Rights.

Under these rules, you can make changes like building a small extension or making your home a shared house for up to six people without asking for planning permission.

In Wales, second homes and holiday homes have different classifications from regular residential homes:

  • If the house is a main or only property, it is classified as Class C3,

  • If the house is a second home and occupied for 183 days or fewer, it is classified as Class C5,

  • If the house is a holiday home which is rented out for short periods, it is classified as Class C6.

The Welsh Government brought in these classifications to control the number of second homes in holiday hotspots.

  • ITV Wales' Tom Atkins explains what Article 4 is and how it works.

Article 4 is a planning rule that local authorities can bring in to take away a particular permitted development right, in a particular location. That means you would then have to apply for planning permission.

In Gwynedd, if the council implements Article 4, changing a main property to a holiday home or second home will require planning permission.

Supporters of the council's plans say that the policy is vital to maintaining local housing stock and ensuring young people are able to stay in the communities where they grew up.

They say that people can no longer afford to live in their hometowns, whilst many properties go unused for much of the year.

The council are expected to make a final decision in the spring of next year. If given the go-ahead, Article 4 could come into effect on 1 September 2024.

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