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Pilot scheme announced to limit second home ownership

A pilot scheme has been announced to test ways of limiting second home ownership and reducing the impact additional properties have on local areas.

The Welsh Government has selected Dwyfor in Gwynedd for the pilot which will launch in January.

Few details are yet being released but it is thought there will be schemes to increase shared equity purchases for local residents, efforts to bring empty homes back into use, and what the Welsh housing minister calls “rental solutions.”

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Second home owners may also have to apply for planning consent if they wish to operate Airbnb-style short lets - this will happen in parts of Wales where short lets “are causing significant difficulties for communities.”

There is currently a consultation about these planning changes and the results “will shape the second phase of the pilot which could involve making changes to planning, taxation and tourism systems” according to a Welsh Government statement.

Minister for climate change and housing, Julie James, says: “We want young people to have a realistic prospect of buying or renting affordable homes in the places they have grown up so they can live and work in their local communities.

“High numbers of second and holiday homes in one area can threaten the Welsh language in its heartlands and affect the sustainability of some rural areas.

“We are a welcoming nation and tourism is a major part in our economy bringing jobs and income to many parts of Wales. But we don’t want ghost villages in seasonal holiday spots – places where no one’s at home in the winter months.

“These are complex issues and there are no quick fixes. What may be right for one community may not work for another. We will need to bring forward a range of actions, there is no one silver bullet here.”

In addition the Welsh minister for education and Welsh language, Jeremy Miles, has launched a consultation on additional measures tailored specifically for those communities where the Welsh language is widely spoken.

“We want our Welsh-language communities to continue to be economically viable places for local people, especially young people, to live and work and where the Welsh language and culture can thrive" he says.

“While there are no easy answers, I am confident the interventions proposed today will go a long way to addressing our objective of ensuring that people in Welsh-speaking communities can afford to live in the communities in which they grew up.”

Propertymark says that at the beginning of 2020, it was estimated there would be 24,423 second homes in Wales, with a significant number of these used or registered as businesses such as holiday units or listings on Airbnb. More than 5,000 people signed a petition in the early part of 2021 calling on the Welsh Government to intervene and change planning rules to “ensure community control of the housing market”.

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    Whilst I agree that converting a property from residential to commercial ie short term lets or holiday lets should require planning permission the rest of the welsh governments ideas are complete codswallop. How can you force who a seller sells to? How can you force people to work where they grew up and why should they even have the right.
    In fact most second homes in the holiday areas WAG are looking at have been passed down through generations so this is more posturing and rubbish being spouted out. They will skew the property market and no doubt will create unintended problems. As usual !

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