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Banned? Another housing hotspot ponders second home curbs

One of the country’s most popular tourist destinations may ban the sale of new builds to second home buyers.

The council in Padstow - the north Cornwall port best known for Rick Stein’s restaurant empire - has prepared a Parish Neighbourhood Plan with such a ban as one of its proposals.

If the local planning authority, Cornwall Council, accepts the plan, it will then be put to a local referendum.

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A small number of other westcountry locations have already introduced this measure but in one area - St Ives - it is thought to have worsened the housing problem rather than helped.

Back in 2016 a referendum in St Ives ended with a ban on the sale of new-build flats and houses to second home buyers; a legal challenge later in the year failed, prompting a series of other referendum votes with similar results in some other westcountry locations. 

At the time some estate agents and developers warned of unintentional consequences of the ban, both in St Ives and elsewhere.

A survey by the London School of Economics in 2018 says the St Ives ban, and similar ones in a handful of other resorts in Britain - all applying only to new-build properties - have been damaging to the local construction and tourism industries.

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

“Tourist towns can restrict second home investors with possibly positive effects on affordability, but this comes at the cost of a significant adverse effect on the local economy.”

Padstow has just 3,000 permanent residents and a town council spokesperson has told the Cornwall Live news website: “There must be little doubt that Padstow has been one of the primary areas for second-home seekers for many years.

"When we started our neighbourhood plan three years ago more than two thirds of all houses purchased in the PL28 postcode area were for second homes.

“Our own residents have told us that they feel it is very depressing to have so many houses in the town empty for most of the year and have highlighted the very negative effect it has on the community, especially in the winter months.

“St Ives Neighbourhood Plan pioneered the way in which the coastal communities of Cornwall can place a legally enforceable restriction on the sale of new open market dwellings in the interests of sustainability.

“As a result, our proposal for open market housing will only be supported where first and future occupancy occupation is restricted by a legal agreement to ensure that each new dwelling is occupied only as a principal residence.”

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