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Cornwall councillor Andrew Wallis calls for 'balance' to second homes

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 08, 2013

Andrew Wallis

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A Cornwall councillor is leading calls to make planning permission compulsory before a house is turned into a second home.

Andrew Wallis made the plea after obtaining research showing the county's second home hotspots and those where there are almost none.

Next week the Porthleven independent councillor will put a motion before a full meeting of Cornwall Council which urges MPs to support national legislation on the matter.

He said that second homes could have a positive economic effect on a community, but without the ability to control their numbers local authorities were powerless to plan for the future. He added: "I'm not against second homes, but there has to be balance.

"If you have a Chinese take-away that closes and the shop starts selling clothes, that would need planning permission for a change of use, so why not second homes.

"You have to have permission to turn a house into one of multiple occupation, so it makes sense to make people seek planning permission before it is turned into a second home."

Mr Wallis said the issue at the core of his motion was that local authorities need to plan for an area.

He said that spiralling numbers of second homes, which were often empty, could spell long-term problems of sustainability for community facilities like a village school or health cover which could be dealt with by owners obtaining planning permission beforehand.

According to figures provided by Cornwall Council's Community Networks, the parishes with the highest number of second homes are around the tourism magnets which dot the coastline around the Camel estuary and South East Cornwall.

At just under 43 per cent, St Minver Lowlands parish has the highest percentage of second homes – 507 of its 1,118 dwellings.

Second in the list is St John parish in Caradon, where 140 of the 342 dwellings are second homes – nearly 41 per cent. St Merryn has just over 38 per cent second homes, St Minver Highlands has nearly 38 per cent and St Endellion has almost 35 per cent.

The other parishes in the top ten are Maker with Rame with 34.3 per cent of its dwellings second homes, St Just in Roseland at 33.4 per cent, Lanteglos at 30.4 per cent, Padstow with 29.3 per cent and Gerrans with 28.3per cent.

The parish with the fewest second homes is Botusfleming, with 0.3 per cent.

According to the figures for larger areas obtained by Mr Wallis, Wadebridge and Padstow is far and away the area with the largest number of second homes with 2,494, or around a fifth, of the 11,722 dwellings. Meanwhile Hayle and St Ives have 11.8 per cent second homes and Camelford has 9.3 per cent.

At the bottom of the league, Bodmin has just 1.5 per cent with only 129 of its 8,492 dwellings second homes, while Camborne, Pool and Redruth has 1 per cent and China Clay country has just 0.9 per cent.

Mr Wallis said he was not attacking second home owners.

"That would be wrong, as second homes do contribute to the Cornish economy," he said.

"However, like I have said before, there is a fine line of contributing, or having a negative impact on the local community and economy."

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  • PaddyTrembath  |  January 08 2013, 9:26PM

    ANY proposed change of use to a house, from a family home to anything else, second home, holiday let, multi occupancy, etc, should require planning permission. Councilor, you're proposals are only part way to providing a solution to the problem. Perhaps a zoning system could also be introduced.

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  • mygodlesslife  |  January 08 2013, 8:09PM

    H_Trevorrow Following in the vein of your ad hominem that you have brought to this debate, allow me to retort. I think the only thing that has struck you is the branches when you fell out of the ignorance tree. I shall refrain from saying you also hit your head on the ground, until you can establish that you have actually landed. How far are you prepared to fall?

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  January 08 2013, 6:59PM

    well said rnasdutch an illuminating insight to wallis ....as suspected another parasite for cornwall @mygodlesslife .....you strike me as an utter fool.

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  • mygodlesslife  |  January 08 2013, 6:04PM

    Interesting comments. I agree with the opposition to developing greenfield sites. There are numerous brownfield sites that could really benefit local communities. Surely, this has to be the better option? A little further perspective shows that if all 14,446 second homes were made available to Cornwall's Homechoice system the number of people on their books (approximately 27,000 null) would drop by around 50%, vastly reducing the further prospective destruction of our untouched greenfield sites. There will, of course be times when greenfield sites are necessary and welcome developments, but without a firm commitment to genuinely price-accessible properties for locals in areas where both the community and environment could use a push in the right direction, then this is what we should be concentrating on. I have heard a common objection to this, that brownfield sites cost more to develop. and this may well be the case. However, if we allow companies to put these - often shabby and dreary - blocks up, we should ensure they pull the ******s down and prepare for redevelopment at their own expense; assuming it cannot be sold or leased to another party that will utilise it fully. Why is it always the tax payer that foots the bill for corporate failure and abandonment? What I would love to see ( but fear it would never happen today) is the establishment of large companies that invested in society, much like the Quakers did with the town of Bourneville. Supply housing for it's workforce and invested in their time and effort - not only in work - but outside of it too. Some companies I have worked for before have made token gestures to this end, but they seem faddy and insincere. Meh! I live in (a dream-like) hope.

  • cliffwalker2  |  January 08 2013, 5:16PM

    If there was any prospect of Parliament amending national planning legislation to make occupation as a second home a change of use requiring planning approval there would be a rush of owner occupiers declaring their homes to be second homes, just to beat the ban because second homes will become much more valuable. That's what always happens when you use the planning system to ration supply. Anyway, where I live near Rock & Polzeath second homers don't DIY and they keep the local men in work as maintenance builders and gardeners. The government isn't going to agree to this, it's not in the Cooalition Agreement, it's just Cllr. Wallis trying to get votes in the May CC election by stirring up a bit of anti-second home resentment - over 6% of Cornwall's houses.

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  • Slimslad  |  January 08 2013, 4:19PM

    To put all these figures into perspective: "The total number of second homes in Cornwall is 14,446 out of a housing stock of 260,077, according to the figures from Cornwall Council Community Intelligence." Under 6%

  • H_Trevorrow  |  January 08 2013, 3:27PM

    Here is a quote on twitter from another councillor to Cllr Wallis ''' Threw out an application to build 300+ houses on greenfield site outside Truro, yesterday. Thanks to @CllrAWallis @Ruthcllr for support! '' Perhaps these councillors should keep a running total of how many of these homes would have been for local affordable market before they give out ridiculous press releases like the above. So these councillors have the power to stop housing projects but when it comes to creating any housing it is always outside thier power. It's just playing to the crowd ...and we are hartily tired of it

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  January 08 2013, 2:57PM

    Quite JJ. utterly incredible that someone who fails to mange simple household bills gets to drive the economy of Cornwall. i'm not Trev by the by.

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  • JJLee  |  January 08 2013, 2:36PM

    Trev he needs to do more than that to cover this up http://tinyurl.com/b2v96wo

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  January 08 2013, 2:25PM

    it's a not a solution to anything. Estate agents and demographic study will confirm that the pressure on housing is nothing to do with second homes. This sort of political gesturing is only designed to get Wallis re-elected in Porthleven. Ask cllr Wallis how many affordable houses he has helped stopped planning for. It is cynical electioneering to blame outsiders for his own lack of action to house the disadvantaged.