0005 Chamber Ian MP Jeff Searle© red red

Second-home controls a timely arrival, says MP

BRIDGWATER’S MP has welcomed news of Government moves to clamp down on the spread of second homes in holiday areas.

Ian Liddell-Grainger says the extending of planning powers to restrict the creation of holiday properties is long overdue.

But, he says, delays in officially tackling the issue have left scores of communities over-saturated with second homes and suffering economically as a result.

Ministers are said to be ready to bring forward legislation allowing councils to ban the creation of second homes if they are deemed to be damaging to the local community, and to give them powers to insist developers build more starter homes instead of focusing on properties likely to be attractive to ‘incomers’ seeking a holiday home.

They are also thought to be considering changing the rules to force owners of a second property to get planning permission before renting it out as a holiday let.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, believes the uncontrolled spread of holiday homes has blighted rather than benefitted scores of communities in the South West.

He said: “Research was published some years ago showing an unquestionable correlation between second home ownership and the provision of local services,” he said.

It demonstrated quite clearly that settlements with high numbers of second homes were those most likely to have lost local services such as shops, post offices and pubs – purely because there was no longer year-round trade.

Today we have reached the paradox whereby village streets are lined with empty properties most of the winter yet there are no affordable properties available for those existing on local wages to buy.

In certain seaside communities it’s now becoming difficult to find lifeboat crew because those who are suitable candidates can’t afford to live close enough to the stations.

I am aware some local authorities have already taken it on themselves to impose whatever constraints legislation currently allows them to but in view of the fact that this is a growing problem in so many areas of the country we need a set of national planning policies to tackle it – and I am very relieved to learn we may be on the brink of acquiring them.”

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