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Second homes keep Duchy afloat, says columnist looking to sell up

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 19, 2012

Port Isaac

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Second home owners who snap up rural properties at the expense of local first-time buyers are throwing a "vital" lifeline to beleaguered communities, one of the region's best-known inhabitants has said.

Novelist and newspaper columnist AN Wilson said economic necessity is reluctantly causing him to sell his seven-bedroom family retreat in Port Isaac, on the north coast of Cornwall.

The home, part of the landscape depicted as the fictional village of Portwenn in Martin Clunes's ITV series Doc Martin, was previously occupied by designer and television presenter Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, while an arguably far greater selling point is its majestic views of the harbour.

Mr Wilson, author of Jesus, The Victorians and Dante In Love, said he "agonised" about being a wealthy "invader" when he and his wife Ruth bought Chicago House in the mid-1990s. But their opinions changed after becoming fully integrated members of the local community.

He said his financial situation had triggered the tall property's sale, with agents Lillicrap Chilcott, for £499,999.

Writing in the Sunday Times, the award-winning biographer said: "Cornwall is one of the poorest parts of the country and its native industries – tin mining, china-clay quarrying, fishing and agriculture – have either been extinguished or squeezed by the world economic situation.

"Tourism is therefore vital for Cornwall's life and, however unfair it is that some people can afford holiday homes while young locals find it impossible to get started on the property ladder, the county would die without second homes and holiday-makers."

Mr Wilson's comments come after worrying but unsurprising figures from the Royal Bank of Scotland, which revealed the South West is "the most unaffordable region" outside London for first-time property buyers.

Prospective home owners have to spend four years saving for a deposit to claw their way on to the first rung of the housing ladder, the RBS report claimed, highlighting the "growing divide" between the Westcountry and the rest of the UK for those trying to afford their first home.

The writer added: "When I bought the house, I was employed as a columnist on two national newspapers and we lived the life of Riley.

"Now I must draw in my horns. I would keep the house forever if I could afford to do so, but I no longer have enough money to maintain it."

He added that, "on the whole", there was a "happy" co-existence of locals and second-home owners, despite his early fears that his status and income would make him stand apart from his new neighbours.

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  • Slimslad  |  September 17 2012, 3:35PM

    You do like the sound of your own rant, don't you,Lannwedhenek?

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  • Fistral20  |  June 21 2012, 8:04AM

    Mice470/Steer73 - have you ever taken the trouble to actually speak, befriend, act like a pleasant human being towards second home owners, or do you despise them so much that you can't be bothered as you're so satisfied with your stereotypical biased views? I know many of them and I can tell you that they spend plenty of their hard earned cash in the local economy on the frequent occasions they visit, either in locally owned shops and businesses or the national stores, both of which provide employment to local people. Your comment that they only visit every few years is so wide of the mark to be laughable and is typical of the anti second home owners brigade, but until such time as freedom of movement is banned and we're only allowed to buy property where we're born, you'd better get used to them.

  • Lannwedhenek  |  June 20 2012, 9:11PM

    Best known? never heard f the chap just sounds like a greedy door knob to me. second homes a life line what tosh. without flaps like him and his get Cornwall's youth wouldn't all be impoverished and or out migrating and the Cornwall the holiday makers loved wouldn't just be a cardboard cut out of itself it would still be the real deal.Lets face facts here, the man is selling up because of his greed. the boat is about to sail and he wants to get the last bit of mileage out of it as he can. To him I say if the economy goes belly up and takes away all your riches along with all the other greedy people who helped cause this mess then Cornwall will be glad, for you will feel what it has done to us and ours for years.... leave us with out a chance in the country we love our country Cornwall.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 20 2012, 1:33PM

    The 'main brains' will 'jump ship' if UKIP get elected Poldice. . It's 'Common Purpose' who are the threat. . The shambles surrounding the Spanish and Greek bailouts demonstrated that. . They believe more and more of the same is the solution. . Like they are just like addicted gamblers. http://tinyurl.com/5p2ybs (open in a new window)

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  • poldice  |  June 20 2012, 1:02PM

    Glad you reached escape velocity Charlie I respect any one who betters themslves, my story is not dissimilar but I had both parents to support me even though the Old Man was a hard taskmaster. So you wanna be Mr10% then? Thers no room for passengers on my vessel you would need to present a clear concise proposal to add at least 100% value to catch my beady eye. Dont like the trend toward foreign crews its ugly and can be exploitive a trait of big companies who always create the problems through their greed, trouble is the playstation generation are so featherbedded they arent up to real work, my choice is boys off the farm who know how to work and want to earn better wages. Problems are there to be solved, issues resolved trouble is the EU creates a problem for every solution but much as I like what they say UKIP strike me as a bunch of wild eyed disaffected right wing tory nutters (hope you are not one of those Charlie) MK are bad enough!!! trouble is I am such a free spirit dont trust or respect any of them.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 20 2012, 12:41PM

    Perhaps you would enter the spec required. . We can then see how many pieces we can fund. I'm concerned Mebyon Kernow won't be happy with foreign crews though.

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  • poldice  |  June 20 2012, 12:38PM

    No Trevorrow but that is capitalism for you, it is deeply concernig that any youngster contemplating a fishing career today faces as many hurdles to owning a boat as to buying a house in Portwenn because of licence and quota reqirements. I think there are two forms of capitalism the type I subscribe to imposes rights and obligations in equal measure, hard work and a smidgeon of luck creates success which bestows certain rights which create obligations to be a fair employer and use the wealth thus generated to support your family whilst benefitting others wherever and whenever possible. This ripple effect generates goodwill and further success and quiet sustainable prosperity over the long term which coincides exactly with the ethos of a generational family business. The type of capitalism I abhor and detest is short termist fuelled by greed designed to strip mine profits, abuse assets, to hell with the consequences and move on like the financial institutions do, it has no soul no compassion and is largely responsible for the financial hole the world is currently spiraling into. Growth at any cost is unsustainable, there is never ever something for nothing, just look at the cost that is faced by ordinary tax payers at this time for the years of profligracy and financial lunacy that is coming home to roost worldwide.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 20 2012, 12:34PM

    Poldice, I grew up in a single parent family on a council estate. . No silver spoons here. . That's as much as I'm telling you. By the way I expect commission, but we will need to get our fisheries back first. . Vote UKIP. Are there any limits on size in the harbour? http://tinyurl.com/c7fjaon (o;en in a new window)

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  • 2ladybugs  |  June 20 2012, 12:28PM

    I don't know quite what is meant by not a lot of support to local traders. Where I live there are quite a few second homes and when talking to the local shop/PO proprietor he said they spend more while they are here than the locals spend all year. The same goes for the local pub. The visitors tend to eat most of their evening meals there whereas the locals may go for the occassional drink and perhaps a meal for a special occassion.(judging by my luck it always seems to be wakes when I decide to go up there)

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  • Mice470  |  June 20 2012, 12:18PM

    As one of the contributors has hinted, the worst problem is those second home owners who buy a property and then leave it empty. When they do decide to make a visit, and not neccessarily every year, they bring all their own supplies with them. Not a lot of support to local traders.

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