A town with one of the UK’s heaviest concentrations of holiday homes is clamping down on future purchases by outsiders who may wish to let the properties in future.
South Hams council in south Devon has agreed to amend an existing neighbourhood plan to try to ensure all future new-builds - including replacement properties for existing ones - are sold and used only as primary residences.
A meeting of the council has discovered that principle residency condition already applies in the existing neighbourhood plan for any new dwellings - they should be occupied by people with connections to the local area - but it is understood this has not been enforced.
New open market housing will only be supported where there is a Section 106 agreement to ensure its occupancy as a principal residence, and the occupancy restriction will require the imposition of a legal agreement, the policy says, adding: “New unrestricted market homes will not be supported at any time.”
The plan says: “The consequence of the high value placed on market housing which attracts primarily second home owners is the lack of supply of properties for younger working people and families. These families move away from the parish.
“If not checked, the demand for high value housing places unsustainable pressure on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and countryside surrounding the town.”
“You should not be misled to think the plan is anti-second home owners, it is not. Those who have second homes in the parish play an essential role supporting the social fabric of the town and the local economy and we hope this will continue unchanged.
“Second home ownership makes a valuable contribution to the local economy and social fabric of the town whilst acknowledging the sustainability of Salcombe Parish is being compromised through the amount of properties that are not occupied on a permanent basis.
“But this policy will support the housing needs of local people, and bring greater balance and mixture to the local housing market and create new opportunities for people to live and work here, and strengthen the community and local economy.”
However, the same council - in a separate document, called Better Lives For All, scheduled to launch in September - makes it clear that it wants to make second home owners pay more.
This document says: “We have a high proportion of homes that are under occupied (or second homes) in the South Hams. This brings serious social challenges that are difficult to address solely within the remit of the local authority.”
It then adds, in general terms: “We’ll also continue to ensure that all homes pay the fair contribution to the services that they use, including second homes.”
And it goes on to say that the council is “Continuing to lobby for closing of the business rate loophole for second homes.” What the council calls a “loophole” means that holiday lets can register as businesses as long as the properties are made available to let for 140 days of the year and bookings are taken for at least half of that duration.