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David Cameron rejects cap on second homes

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 09, 2012

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David Cameron has rejected curbs on second home ownership, arguing restricting holiday properties would "drive out" investment in areas with high numbers of part-time residents.

The Prime Minister, who frequently holidays in the region, told the Western Morning News he believes more homes should be built to ease the housing crisis in the Westcountry.

Devon and Cornwall boast about 26,000 holiday homes and have among the highest levels of second-home ownership, which critics blame for pushing up house prices beyond the reach of local people.

In a briefing with regional newspaper journalists at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Mr Cameron argued for giving communities more powers that could include ring-fencing homes for local people.

He also suggested it would be unfair to "rob" sellers of money by saying they could not sell a property as a second home.

Westcountry Liberal Democrat MPs have long pushed for planning restrictions on second homes in beauty spots.

Asked by the WMN whether he would back a cap, Mr Cameron said: "Some of the controls people have suggested will drive out the investment and the building that is required to give these communities support.

"What is necessary in some cases is that we're not building enough homes that are affordable to local people. Getting rid of some of the planning controls. Putting powers in the hands of local authorities. Allowing neighbourhoods to have local plans. I think that will help those sorts of communities.

"They can take more control of their communities, they can build homes for local people, they can make sure they have sustainable communities, they can make sure communities support local pubs and local shops and local schools.

"I'd rather go down that path than try to set restrictions, which I think you're in danger of starving investment into communities rather than allowing them to take care of themselves."

He added: "Communities can write plans about how they want to see their communities develop, that's one of the best ways of getting extra houses built for local people.

"Often the suggestion is why don't you stop people selling their homes if someone else is going to use it as a second home. I think that is quite difficult to deliver in practice. It would be very bureaucratic. And I think it would rob a lot of people of the value of their homes."

The Government wants to abolish generous tax breaks for holiday homes, giving authorities power to remove the council tax relief on second homes – which ranges from 10% to 50%.

Observers say high numbers of holiday properties turn villages into ghost communities outside of the summer season.

Cornwall tops the national second homes league table with around 14,000 holiday properties.

The South Hams in South Devon comes in at number seven, with more than 4,000 secondary properties. Around half of the properties in the village of East Portlemouth, near Salcombe, are occupied part-time.

Councils across the region are consulting on house-building targets over the next 20 years, though critics believe a free-for-all would turn rural beauty spots into a "Costa Brava" of concrete.

Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, who has campaigned for curbs to second home ownership in the region, said: "The Prime Minister appears to be out of touch with people who feel the impact of second homes.

"Perhaps he should commission research into the economic impact to see if he is right. People in my constituency would think differently."

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  • Big_Ger  |  October 25 2012, 9:17AM

    This is interesting: "Without second homeowners we would not be here," she said. "Local trade would not keep us going, like it or hate it." http://tinyurl.com/dy5tbyp

  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 15 2012, 10:59PM

    jungly boy you are , at last , correct. This forum is viewable worldwide and , therefore, you and Paddy are being laughed at by people from all over the globe.

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  October 15 2012, 10:49PM

    H_Trevorrow A percentage make a pretence of being a holiday let which carries various tax advantages - something that was being taken away until Tory Boy and his mates came in. But I guess that's beyong the comprehension of you mere mortals with double digit IQs. BTW, I think you'll find this discussion forum goes beyond the Tamar.

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  • SmartyC  |  October 15 2012, 5:24PM

    ******Because the dependency culture has nothing to do with this discussion. People who DO work hard for a living but do not have the skills to be high earners are denied to opportunity to live in their home town because of people who think it their right to own a property to use every now and then.******* I sympathise with priced out working people, been there myself in the late eighties. However high property prices have nothing to do with second home ownership, there are simply too many properties for sale and too few second home owners to make a difference. The reason property prices got so high was because the banks came up with ever more inventive ways to lend people far more than they could sensibly afford. "Lie to buy" self certification, 6x salary mortgages (and more), interest only mortgages, and on and on. This put far more "buying power" in peoples pockets, however if you lend everyone three times as much to spend, you don't end up with everyone in three times as nice houses as they would have had, you end up with everyone in the same houses but at three times the cost. Exactly what happened. So now the banks have had their fingers (very badly) burnt and the silly lending has gone. Unfortunately the government seems hell bent on keeping property prices artificially high, hence ridiculously low interest rates that reward borrowers and penalise savers. Plus banks encouraged to keep people in their homes via interest only agreements (ie tiny payments and no reduction in mortgage debt) rather than repossessing. Prices are dropping, but very slowly as owners refuse to accept the current situation, and are able to hold out for sky high prices via the methods above. In the last recession, houses in the bay dropped, typically, by about a third, often more. (After being priced out in the late eighties I bought a three bedroom house in the early nineties for less than people were paying for tiny one bed flats only a couple of years before). This recession is much much worse (there were no bank bail outs last time). Property value drops will be much much worse. All anyone priced out has to do is play the long game, sit and wait. By definition property HAS to be affordable by those that live in it, that's how it gets paid for. Blaming second home owners is just clever deflection by those in power that don't want to accept either the blame, or the fact that property prices has a long long way to drop, and will cause a whole lot more pain on the way down...

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  • PaddyTrembath  |  October 15 2012, 10:39AM

    Exactly Jungle_Jim, but unfortunately, as Big_Ger says:- "The trouble is that some, wilfully I believe, mix the two up into one ****geneous mass, in order to try to further a political agenda."

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  October 14 2012, 6:34PM

    H_Trevorrow "Plenty of local businesses have stayed or been created by tourism and the owners aim to make thier annual income in the summer" The problem is that most second homes (which is what this discussion is about) are little used and the businesses would have more winter trade if they were first homes or holiday lets. Second homes and holiday lets are 2 very different things.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 14 2012, 5:06PM

    Paddy these villages developed around a now defunct small boat fishing industry. The original locals still exsist and now live in modern buildings with proper damp proofing , space for parking and a garden which was paid for by selling some dodgy hovel to a starry eyed tourist seeeking a romantic hideaway. Plenty of local businesses have stayed or been created by tourism and the owners aim to make thier annual income in the summer. Small cornershops selling sundry daily items have gone from everywhere including tourist traps...post offices likewise... as for the pub...you obviously have'nt a clue ...every nieghbourhood pub is struggling// the ones that survive are becoming restaurants {it a sad change to our habits - same in every part of the uk}. Even you accept a second home free village would be a sort of cornish stock broker belt populated by middleaged dink' ies or the retired. Thankyou for conceeding that you have nothing to reverse the trends at force but to maybe create a limited opportunity for a very few.

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  • PaddyTrembath  |  October 14 2012, 4:09PM

    H_Trevorrow, the difference is that there would be a living community in the "desireable seaside villages", local business would have a chance to at least continue in business. The local Pub, Post Office, Village Store. Other local business would also have a bite of the apple. This would help provide employment for "low income families", some of whom may well then be able to earn enough to join the "wealthier locals and incomers" in buying a "twee harbourside cottage". As for you final comment, if all you are able to do is hurl insult and abuse in an attempt to win an argument, you've already lost. SidneyNuff, aren't you the chap that writes the editorials for the Daily Mail?

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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 14 2012, 2:44PM

    No one who is unemployed and living off the state has any right to complain about where they live or how many homes anyone else has. Get a job and contribute to society if you want a say in it.

  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 14 2012, 12:39PM

    in Paddy's world his regulation on second home ownership would benefit locals who could then afford twee harbourside cottages. Bunkum! Even if you outlawed second homes the wealthier locals and incomers would then move in. There would be no resurgence of community life for low income families as they would still be priced out of desireable seaside villages. Paddy ,and his myopic friends, peddle xenophobic twaddle to the gullible .

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