“How we can create a planning system that gives local communities the ability to strike the right balance between opportunities to create different accommodation options for tourists and ensuring there is a supply of housing for the local community” [Kevin Foster, MP for Torquay]
“Giving councils powers to apply a levy on visitors so that they can respond to local circumstances more effectively and develop, support or sustain the visitor economy” [Joanna Cherry, MP for Edinburgh]
Yesterday, Devon MPs “considered short-term holiday lets and the planning system”:
Devon MPs call for clampdown on short-term holiday lets to tackle housing crisis – Devon Live
Here’s the full debate from Westminster Hall:
Debate: Short-term Holiday Lets: Planning – 23rd May 2023
To give a quick summary of what South-West MPs had to say:
Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay, opened the debate:
The focus for today is on how we can create a planning system that gives local communities the ability to strike the right balance between opportunities to create different accommodation options for tourists and ensuring there is a supply of housing for the local community, which is vital in providing the staff and services to support the visitor economy without which the tourism short lets would not exist.
His colleague Selaine Saxby of North Devon added:
In addition to the work within the Department it is vital that the Treasury looks to rebalance the tax inequalities between long-term and short-term rental if we are to secure places for people to live in our beautiful constituencies
East Devon MP Simon Jupp also contributed:
I hope the key message of today’s debate will be that we need to get the balance right. Homes to buy and for long-term rent are out of reach for many people who grew up in Devon, like me, or who work locally or need the support of family to look after a loved one. Our country and our county need strong communities all year round, not places that are ghost towns half the year.
Luke Pollard of Plymouth also spoke:
We need to see action on second homes, Airbnbs and the lack of affordable housing in rural and coastal communities before we truly hollow out those communities at an irreparable rate.
Derek Thomas of St Ives added:
In areas such as west Cornwall and Torbay, urgent action is needed to address the squeeze on housing for people who live and work in those beautiful parts of the nation. We love our tourism, but local homes are needed to ensure that strong local communities survive.
Richard Foorde of Honiton made an interesting addition:
The digital nomad is somebody who has a first home, but can work elsewhere, in a second home. Unlike the traditional nomad, who moves seasonally, those people often have more than one home.
Anthony Magnall of Totness summed up much of the argument:
If we want to improve housing stock; encourage landlords to let long-term rental properties; encourage primary residency building, as is envisaged in the neighbourhood plans; and encourage an ability to diversify in rural landscapes, we must act. If we get that right, we can achieve the perfect balance between short-term lets, long-term lets and affordable properties, because in the end, the issue all boils down to supply.
Cheryl Mackrory of Truro made a special plea:
Please feed into the Government’s consultation, which closes on 7 June. I make that plea to everybody: short-term holiday let owners, hoteliers, the police, the hospitals, everybody who is looking for staff in Cornwall, and residents. Only by getting a vast array of opinions and arguments in favour and against can the Government get this right. Working together, we will get this right, and get the finances for our communities.
[See:Last weeks to contribute to business valuation consultation – GOV.UK and SLCC | Government Proposes New Holiday Let Rules]
After considerable debate, The Minister of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Rachel Maclean, spoke – to give but one point:
We have legislated to require from April 2023 evidence of actual letting activity, in response to very sensible concerns from colleagues. The property must have been let for at least 70 days in the previous year before it can be assessed for business rates and therefore qualify for 100% relief. That ensures that more properties contribute to local services through business rates, council tax or income tax regime changes.
Interestingly, in his closing speech, Kevin Foster referred to what is happening in Edinburgh – as outlined earlier by its MP Joanna Cherry:
The whole of the city of Edinburgh has now been designated as a let control area, and others are planned for the Scottish highlands. The Scottish Government will also go further by giving councils powers to ensure that tourism works for communities by introducing a transient visitor levy, which will give councils discretionary powers to apply a levy on visitors so that they can respond to local circumstances more effectively and develop, support or sustain the visitor economy.
[See also: Short-term let control area – The City of Edinburgh Council and New Edinburgh planning rules are ‘de-facto ban’ on short-term lets – Edinburgh Live and Conservatives say Short term lets licensing scheme is “flawed” | The Edinburgh Reporter]