Ban on second homes could have big implications for communities in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 10:30 09 May 2016
Communities in Suffolk with high proportions of second homes are unlikely to ban the holiday properties – fearing an impact on their economies.
Residents of St Ives in Cornwall have voted to ban second homes and new housing projects will get planning consent in future only if they are for full-time residents.
The decision though – part of the town’s vote on its new Neighbourhood Plan (NP) – is likely to face a legal challenge in the High Court and Government ministers may also press for it to be reversed as it is feared it is discriminatory.
Suffolk communities working on their NPs are watching developments closely, but are sceptical.
In Aldeburgh some 30% of the town’s housing stock is second homes and in Southwold the figure is even higher, 36%.
Mayor of Aldeburgh Michael Kiff said: “I had understood that you couldn’t put things like this into the Neighbourhood Plan and I am very surprised.
“We are watching this with interest. I am not sure they will be able to enforce it.
“There are lots of towns up and down the country with similar situations concerning the numbers of second homes, but I think you have to take a balanced view.
“We have around 30% of second homeowners but they bring a lot of money into the town and we have a vibrant High Street on the back of that.
“A lot of second homeowners go on to become full-time homeowners because they like it so much and decide they want to live here, particularly when they retire.
Our town isn’t a morgue in winter – a lot of the second homeowners rent their properties in the winter months to make a few pounds and then return in the summer.”
Mayor of Southwold, Melanie Tucker said people needed to be cautious about banning second homes and to think through the implications.
She said: “It’s early days for NPs but it appears it would be possible to consider a ban but a town plan must reflect the overall strategy of the district in which it sits.
“I can understand the desire of residents in towns impacted by this imbalance and I can understand they could have strong feelings about it, and some residents have concerns about being priced out of the housing market, but any ban imposed – say like that envisaged – is always going to have knock-on implications which are not always apparent when the idea is first proposed. I think caution is important.”
She feared if homes were only to be sold to local people, housebuilders might go elsewhere, which would hold down the housing supply and drive up prices.
People could find ways to get round the scheme – such as swapping their first and second home designation.
A ban could also effect villages and towns nearby without bans – simply transferring the problem. Southwold has a close relationship with Reydon , where homes have traditionally been less expensive, but a ban on second homes in Southwold could make property in Reydon and other nearby communities a target for second home owners and more expensive.