An in-depth commissioned report on short term holiday lets and second homes in Gwynedd shows that the Welsh Government need to take action now to tackle housing shortages, and follow Scotland’s plans to offer local authority the powers to regulate short term holiday lets.
One key recommendation states home-owners should request permission by the local authority to change the use of a property to short term holiday accommodation.
Another important recommendation from the report says a mandatory licensing scheme for short-term holiday lets should be introduced, managed by the local authority.
These plans are already being put in place in Scotland where local authorities will be given new powers to regulate short-term lets through an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Order, as they decide if short term lets are in the interest of local communities.
These calls are being made as the report findings show that 10.77% of the housing stock in Gwynedd, 6849 houses are now second homes or holiday accommodation. This is a significant increase compared to 7.78% a total of 4415 houses in 2001.
The current Welsh national average is 2.56% houses categorised as second homes or holiday accommodation. Nearly 60% of local people in Gwynedd are currently priced out of the housing market.
The report, commissioned by Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd Councillor for planning and the environment, Gareth Griffith looked at four key elements, the number and location of holiday homes in Gwynedd; establishing trends over the past 30 years; assessing the impact of holiday homes on local communities and exploring possible solutions and regulatory control mechanisms.
Councillor Gareth Griffith explains: “This is a timely report, giving us clear facts and evidence regarding the housing stock in Gwynedd. The supply and choice of housing available in Gwynedd is a critical issue for local communities. The planning system has a direct role to play in ensuring that sufficient land is available to meet the housing needs of local communities.
“However, there are communities across Wales that face significant pressures due to the use of residential dwellings as short term holiday lets which has resulted in a housing stock which does not currently meet the requirements of local communities.”
92% of the people of Abersoch are priced out of the housing market with Llanengan following close behind at 90%.
“We hear stories of young families not being able to find appropriate properties at the right price in the right location, and young people migrating from the county as houses become unaffordable.
“This report shows huge pressure facing communities in Gwynedd, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire in particular. The situation is not unique to Gwynedd, but we are now facing a crucial point, and we are determined to push the Welsh Government to take action. We are reaching a crisis point in many Welsh counties, and this conclusive factual report, shows that the Welsh Labour Government must take action to redress the balance.”
“We are acutely aware that tourism plays a pivotal role in Gwynedd’s economy and is essential to the sustainability of local communities and residents of Gwynedd. The sector brings immense economical benefits to the county and supports thousands of jobs.
Plaid Cymru led Gwynedd Council introduced a 50% tax premium on a second home property in April 2018. Due to a legal loophole in the Welsh Government’s Finance Act some second homeowners and short term holiday let owners move their houses from the Council Tax rate to the Business Tax Rate. This in most cases means no tax payment, which means avoiding to pay for vital local government services such as bin collections, recycling, road maintenance, street lighting and more.
This prevents local authorities from using a key source of funding to ensure that investment is made in housing for local people who want to buy or rent homes in their communities plus protect essential local services.
“This is a fundamental flaw in the taxation system, and one that needs to be addressed by the Welsh Government,” said Councillor Gareth Griffith.
The full report will be discussed at Gwynedd Council’s Communities Scrutiny Committee before being sent to the Cabinet for discussion on the 15 of December.