Sadly Salcombe Proves Second Home Restrictions are Unworkable and Counterproductive

Devon Live

South Hams District Council, when they met last week, unanimously agreed an amendment to the existing neighbourhood plan for the picturesque town of Salcombe which would ensure that all newly built homes could only be used as a primary residence.

Around 57 per cent of homes in Salcombe are already classed as ‘second homes’, and a principle residency condition already applies in the existing neighbourhood plan for any new dwellings requiring them to be occupied by people with a local tie to the area.

But over a number of years, these ordinary planning conditions tend to get lost or are overlooked when a house is resold, councillors were told, allowing them to quickly become second homes.

Therefore, an amendment to the plan to strengthen the condition has been proposed and backed by councillors to introduce a legal condition on all new housing in the parish.

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.”

I used to belive in such restrictions. But now the evidence is clear NOWHERE where they have been tried have they worked.

The first point how are obligations more enforceable than a BCN. Nothing is as easy to enforce against as a BSN or breach of a conditions prescient following the rotherham case.

Thre really is one on situation where you would favour a s106 over a condition. Where you cant impose a conditions precient of x before y because you need to obligate a developer to x alongside y, such as building something as part of a phase. There is no point imposing an occupancy condition by obligation, indeed it is weaker as you are forced to go straight to EN or injunction. It is a condition wth a bonus prize of money for nothing legal fees to planning lawyers. Can any commentator here explain any befefit.

What is worse research shows such conditions are unenforceable or counterproductive.

St Ives for example

Falmouth Packet

A second home ban in the tourist hotspot of St Ives has backfired according to a new study – and priced locals out of the market.

Residents in the Cornish coastal town voted three years ago to ban the sale of new houses as second homes.

It was hoped that this would make housing more affordable for local people who were being priced out of the market by wealthy summer-dwellers.

But a fresh report has claimed the reality of the ban has had an opposite impact – and has made the situation worse.

The study by the London School of Economics argued the bans have been damaging to the local construction and tourism industries.

It is claimed it has caused the pool of available homes to shrink as house builders walked away – leading to even higher prices.

And with the demand for second homes remaining sky high, the ban has just moved focus away from new builds onto the limited stock of existing primary residences.

Professor Christian Hilber, who led the study, said: “In St Ives, where primary homes can easily be converted into second homes, demand has switched from new-build to existing homes and, possibly, to other nearby towns.

“This has led to an increase in the price of existing homes as summer dwellers are competing for existing homes with local residents.”

He said he believes the ban could increase the ‘ghost town effect’ and be detrimental to local people.

He added: “Tourist towns face a fundamental trade-off. They can restrict second home investors, with possibly positive effects on amenities and affordability.

“But this always comes at the cost of a significant adverse effect on the local economy. Any policy that succeeds in keeping second home investors away will hurt the local economy, mainly the tourism and construction sectors.”

He believes a better option would be a local annual tax on the value of a second home.

He says this could generate revenue for the local authority which could then be used to provide or improve services.

If you must use planning obligations impose one where every week a new build house is not used as a primary residence, including short term lets, impose a 5,000 pound charge and use the fines to build affordable housing, that would do it.

One thought on “Sadly Salcombe Proves Second Home Restrictions are Unworkable and Counterproductive

  1. From an LPA perspective, there are perhaps two slim advantages to a S106 restriction (but they might not outweigh the disadvantages). One is that there is no risk of a breach becoming immune by passage of time, unlike a condition. The other is that if the scheme is at appeal, and the developer has signed a S106, the Inspector cannot set the restriction aside if granting permission (unlike a condition, even a condition that the developer has agreed to).

    Re the idea of a fine, we did something similar a few years ago in relation to a restriction on car ownership within the vicinity of a student housing scheme in an accessible & congested built-up area with no parking provided (other than an element of disabled parking). Fines payable by the landlord (not the occupant) and payable to a green transport fund to provide bike lanes etc. I believe the landlord then included clauses in the rental agreements to recoup or possibly evict anyone responsible. No reported breaches 15 years later. Impossible to know with certainty whether the restriction was effective, or unnecessary, but as an approach I would still support this. Re the second homes issue I would suggest a higher recurring fine – how high depends on whether you genuinely want to block second home occupation or whether you want to raise funds…

    And perhaps one last advantage to a S106 restriction – it’s more likely to be spotted by the mortgage company than a condition in my experience – making it less likely that breaches will happen in the first place perhaps?

    Personal views etc

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