New build caps and change of use applications on the cards for second homes in Devon

Concern is mounting amongst MPs in rural staycation holiday destinations, particularly in areas such as Devon and Cornwall, that local families and workers are being priced out of the housing market by holiday lets and new builds being sold as second homes.

The MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby is the latest in a string of MPs voicing concerns around the availability of affordable local housing and has raised the potential for a change of use application to be required for holiday lets. MPs have also recently consulted with the secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick last week about possible inclusions to the upcoming Planning Bill.

Saxby told the BBC Radio 4 World at One programme:

“we want to focus on building homes to ensure local people can work in the area, including in the tourist sector, and to find a better way to manage the holiday let market, so that we know how many properties are being rented out”.

This is in addition to another proposal relating to caps on the number of new-builds that can be sold for use other than as a primary residence, also being discussed.

Tax benefits and the rising popularity of staycation holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic have created a surge in the numbers of second home owners and investors in the past year, which shows no sign of slowing as house prices continue to rise while developers try and meet the demands of the growing housing market.

The Cornwall and Falmouth Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham has also made previous comment on the situation, revealing a huge problem with housing shortages in Cornwall. Currently there are 69 properties to let compared with 10,000 AirBnbs in Cornwall.

Kirkham says that it is all down to an increase in second home ownership, again fuelled by the Covid stamp duty relief, people relocating to Cornwall now they can work from home and Airbnb lettings being more lucrative for landlords than renting longer term to locals.

Saxby has also indicated that the most pressing challenges lie in the private rental sector in Devon, where evictions had left some people unable to find a new private rental because the market is so static.

“They have, over the summer, eight or so weeks left, to find accommodation. These are people who work here in our community,”

she said.

To tackle the problem, Jenrick has reportedly been holding video calls with affected MPs to hear feedback on the Bill over the summer parliamentary recess. The legislation is expected to go before parliament this year.

Although the Planning Bill may be a step closer to creating more affordable housing for locals, Saxby is mindful that it may create a repeat of repercussions in Cornwall, following a failed attempt to use the planning process to curb sales of new builds to second home buyers, with builders simply moving projects elsewhere.

“This is why nobody is rushing forward saying ‘this is the solution’,”

Saxby said.

“We are well aware of what happened in Cornwall. These things need to be done on a more national basis, or perhaps along the full coast. Obviously, you can move building along the coast if it’s only one place doing something different,” she said.

Today's Conveyancer