Cornish campaigners call for tougher holiday homes regulations

Rock in Cornwall
Rock, Cornwall Credit: ITV News

Housing campaigners have called for tighter planning restrictions to curb the number of holiday homes in the region.

Campaign group First NOT Second homes says emergency action needs to be taken to tackle housing shortages in areas like Cornwall.

It's in response to the government launching what it calls a ''call to evidence'' on the short term letting sector. Ministers are asking for feedback from the industry and those who live in areas affected by holiday lets and second home ownership on what if any changes need to be made.

Cath Navin Credit: ITV News

Campaigner Cath Navin who lives near Hayle says she wants planning restrictions that would give local councils greater control.

Cath Navin, First NOT Second Homes: ''What we do need is we need planning regulation that really looks at local areas where we can put caps and thresholds in to prevent communities from being hollowed out, school closures and amenities being lost. Until that happens you can as many regulated holiday lets as you like, but it will carry on breaking down those communities.''

The UK government’s Tourism Recovery Plan published in June 2021 included a commitment to consider a possible Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England.

It says the purpose of the call for evidence is ''to gather information that will improve the government’s understanding of the benefits and challenges of short term lets across England as a whole and how they vary across the country. This evidence will help us determine whether there are options the UK government should pursue through a consultation.''

Conservative MP for St Ives Derek Thomas told ITV News he supports the increasing pressure for more powers at a local level.

He said: ''What we're really arguing for with government is that they actually provide a licence system so that Cornwall Council can actually manage the number of homes that get moved across from permanent residences to holiday lets or for second homes.''

Rock, Cornwall Credit: ITV News

The St Minver Lowlands area in North Cornwall which includes Rock and Daymer Bay, is estimated to have the highest percentage of second and holiday homes in Cornwall. A Cornwall Council 'heat map' of holiday home locations revealed that 71% of properties in that area were holiday lets or second homes.

Local families say the impact of that is that they are being priced out of the area. A reduction in school roll numbers at St Minver School means it has had to lose one teacher and merge two of the classes. Parent Emma Tudge says there are now concerns for what that might happen in the long term.

St Minver School Credit: ITV News

Emma Tudge: ''It is a worrying trend if that continues, because it's going to impact the children's education and the wider community feel I think. Our neighbour has just become an Airbnb having been a rental for a year before that for a long term tenant, and it's absolutely an issue for people trying to find a home in the area.''

Another St Minver resident Sandra Kempthorne lives in a shared ownership home built on land originally sold by her family for the creation of social housing.

She says: ''That's what we need, we need more affordable housing. They're building houses and saying they are affordable, but they are not really affordable for local people. We need a clamp on building second homes where the houses aren't used for 9 months of the year.''

The government says its call for evidence on short term letting will run for 12 weeks. More details on the 13 question survey can be found here. It says it will then consult further on specific options later in the year.

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