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Steps to ease the housing crisis on the South-West

  • by JW





There is actually no evidence base that has drawn any link whatsoever between short-term accommodation and housing scarcity.”

“No more investment properties. Second homeowners give something back. Rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price.”


Earlier this month, a senior AirBnB executive spoke at the Lords built environment committee:

“The reality is, we don’t know very much. There is actually no evidence base that has drawn any link whatsoever between short-term accommodation and housing scarcity.”

Inside Housing – News – No evidence to link housing scarcity and short-term lets, says Airbnb senior manager

Others would beg to differ – and would offer some practical steps forward to help ease the housing crisis.

Here are some pointers from the South West:


Last week, East Devon’s MP made it clear that “building more homes alone won’t solve housing crisis”:

The government must also look at the rise of second home ownership and the increasing numbers of holiday cottages. Recent figures revealed that there were more than 11,000 homes classed as second homes in Devon… Ministers want to go further to clampdown on vacant homes in a bid to contain price inflation. Under plans being drawn up by the government, councils could be handed discretionary powers to increase council tax by 100% on second homes that are neither used nor let out by their owners for at least 70 days per year.

East Devon needs clampdown on second homes | Exmouth Journal

We risk our communities becoming unsustainable if nothing is done – Devon Live

The urge to ‘regulate second homes’ is growing – in Devon and Cornwall too:

Housing crisis is spoiling the beauty of the Lakes — we need to regulate holiday lets and second homes


Meanwhile in Torbay, the council is providing stop-gap housing:

A Devon council has approved proposals to purchase nearly 40 properties to help homeless families. A report presented to a cabinet meeting of Torbay Council showed that there was a 150% rise in need for temporary homes compared to April 2018. The report said it was believed that all 37 purchased properties could be available to rent from the end of 2022. By having such emergency accommodation, the council could also offer support while alternatives were found, it said.

Council propose to purchase properties to help homeless – BBC News


At a conference last week, the Homes for Cornwall campaign aimed for a ‘shared vision to create truly affordable housing for Cornwall’:

Emma Stratton, who runs the Scarlet and Bedruthan hotels, … started the Homes for Cornwall group after hearing her staff’s growing problems with finding somewhere to live.

“The only way you can tone that down is by getting people to have conversations who wouldn’t normally talk to each other, and to listen to each other’s point of view and reach some common ground. It’s about having those community conversations in a safe space where no one can shout, where people can work on what they share and ask, ‘what do we gain if we manage to solve this?’ Let’s not look at what’s happened and what we’re unhappy about individually but move forward as a community together.”
Emma says she would like to see a change to national planning policy, including the amount of affordable homes in new developments to rise from a minimum of 25% to a minimum of 50%, which would be “sensible in coastal communities or any communities where holiday lets have put local houses under pressure. All new builds should be allocated to local people with a housing need”.

Councillor Olly Monk, portfolio holder for housing at Cornwall Council who was present at the conference, said: “The solution to the housing crisis in general in Cornwall is providing much more properties that local people can afford. I think there are solutions out there but it requires compromise from everybody, really – of the land being available, to the price which people develop the land at in the first place.”

Plea to stop ‘blame’ culture over second homes and holiday lets to tackle Cornwall housing crisis – Cornwall Live


Yesterday’s Guardian came from the South West, with the suggestion that holiday makers ask a few questions about the provenance of their accommodation:

Tourists heading to holiday homes in the south-west of England are being urged to check before they travel if their rental will worsen the area’s affordable housing crisis. The call for “ethical consideration” of the potential negative impact of short-term lets comes as figures showed 3,000 new holiday and second homes were registered in the south-west during the pandemic while homes listed for normal letting halved and rents jumped.

As thousands of families prepare to descend on coastal hotspots for half-term, the former St Ives MP Andrew George, who now builds affordable housing, said people renting holiday lets should consider challenging landlords over the impact…  In March, graffiti appeared in St Agnes, Cornwall, which read: “No more investment properties. Second homeowners give something back. Rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price.”

Tourists to south-west England urged to check if rental affects housing crisis | Second homes | The Guardian

As reported widely in the media:

Graffiti criticising second homeowners appears in Cornwall | ITV News West Country

Why Cornwall can’t survive without second home owners |

St Agnes holiday home vandalised with graffiti condemning investment properties in Cornwall | Daily Mail Online

Graffiti makes message clear on second homes in Cornwall | News | The Times

Cornwall holiday home owners issued warning by angry locals ‘Rent or sell empty house’ |