A perfect storm: The scale of Cornwall's housing crisis

  • Watch Kathy Wardle's report

''A perfect storm'' - that is how the councillor in charge of housing for Cornwall has described what he says is the Duchy's housing crisis.

Councillor Ollie Monk, who holds the portfolio for Housing and Planning on Cornwall Council says lots of people have been moving to the county during the pandemic, and many rental owners have been selling to take advantage of high house prices.

That, he says, has led to an increased shortage of homes to rent or buy.

Cllr Momk said: "It's most definitely a crisis due to varying factors. It's like a perfect storm, a lot of people want to visit Cornwall now and that's pushed up rental prices.

Cllr Ollie Monk, Cornwall Council Credit: ITV News

"You've got landlords who are disenfranchised, they want to leave, sell up and take advantage of high house prices right now."

According to Cllr Monk there are 16,000 people looking for council housing through Home Choice in Cornwall - and the average wait to find a home is 9 months.

A search of the site shows it currently has 41 properties available in the whole of Cornwall.

Cornwall Council currently creates around 1,600 beds a year through its building programme, but it says it needs to increase this dramatically.

Cllr Monk added: ''The council can get hold of significant amounts of finance to build the council housing that we need to start addressing this issue, but it's not a magic wand, we can't start building tomorrow, delivering the amount we need will take time.''

Abi Harding, Housing petition organiser Credit: ITV News

Abi Harding is the Cornish woman behind a change.org petition calling for tougher second home restrictions and caps on local rents. It has already attracted more than 43,000 signatures.

She said: ''There's no current regulation of the housing stock in Cornwall.

"We're not saying that there shouldn't be any second homes, we're saying there should be a quota about how many houses in a village or a town goes towards holiday homes, or goes towards council housing.

"There's a lot of talk about affordable housing and putting communities first, but there's no talk of this very urgent looming homelessness crisis that we're facing.''

There are currently more than £2 billion worth of empty homes in Cornwall

Jonathan Start runs an estate agency in Newquay. He says they are overwhelmed by applications for private rentals and can't meet demand.

"We literally haven't got enough properties to go round," he said.

"We typically get 30-40 applications for every property that we put on purely because of that lack of supply, but that huge demand."

Next week Cornwall Council will be considering a motion to declare a housing emergency in Cornwall.  It's also aiming to draw up a new housing need plan by September.