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Protecting Communities: New Controls on Holiday Lets to be Introduced

holiday let

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has today announced that Local residents will be protected from being pushed out of their communities by excessive holiday lets lets due to changes in planning rules.

New controls on holiday lets in England will be introduced from the summer so people may need to seek permission from the council to turn their home into a short-term let. A mandatory national registration scheme will also be introduced. This will be part of the Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which aims to equal out the playing field by creating opportunities across the UK to increase social mobility.

The rules will not apply to people renting out their main home for less than 90 nights a year. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs are also unaffected by the changes.

Holiday Lets: A Change to Planning Rules

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said councils would have the power to require planning permission for properties to be turned into holiday lets, if they deemed this necessary. Only new short-term lets would require planning permission, with existing ones automatically reclassified.

The Government said the changes to holiday lets would make it easier to find somewhere affordable to buy or rent in places where there are a high number of short-term lets, preventing a “hollowing out” of communities. It said the new national register would also give local councils information about short-term lets in their area to help understand the effect on communities and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

The number of holiday lets in England rose by 40% between 2018 and 2021, with tourist hotspots such as Scarborough and North Devon seeing sharp increases. MPs representing popular holiday destinations like Cornwall, the Lake District and Norfolk have previously called for stronger regulation, arguing a rise in the number of short-term lets has made it hard for local people to find somewhere affordable to live. However, others criticised the proposals when they were first announced last year, with former Conservative Housing Secretary Simon Clarke calling them “anti-business”.

Responses

The Tourism Alliance, a trade association representing the sector, said it supported the idea of a mandatory registration scheme, but changes to planning rules were “more concerning”. The association’s executive director, Richard Toomer, said: “While we understand the government’s desire to tackle the lack of housing in some areas, it is vital that we don’t harm the visitor economy in destinations which are reliant on a good supply of tourism accommodation. We continue to believe that the registration scheme must be implemented first, because it’s only by using the data that this scheme will supply that local authorities can know if and where there are problems, and have solid information on which to base their planning decisions.”

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Short-term lets can play an important role in the UK’s flourishing tourism economy, providing great, easily-accessible accommodation in some of the most beautiful parts of our country. But in some areas, too many local families and young people feel they are being shut out of the housing market and denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.” Gove said the changes “strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need”.

Tourism Minister Julia Lopez said: “Short-term lets provide flexibility for homeowners and give tourists more accommodation options than ever before, but this should not prevent local people from being able to buy or rent homes in their area. The Government is committed to getting the balance right to ensure both local people and our visitor economy can thrive”.

The changes were also welcomed by Airbnb, a website which allows people to advertise short-term lets. Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe, Airbnb said: The introduction of a short-term lets register is good news for everyone. Families who Host on Airbnb will benefit from clear rules that support their activity, and local authorities will get access to the information they need to assess and manage housing impacts and keep communities healthy, where necessary. We have long led calls for the introduction of a Host register and we look forward to working together to make it a success”.

Final thought

For local communities in tourist areas, there are concerns over the advantages tourism provides. Outside of the summer months, it appears that many of these homes remain empty. Hence, within the context of ‘Levelling Up’, this plan could potentially have huge benefits for those who reside in seaside towns and other localities by placing power back in their hands, which for so long been held by landlords and big businesses.

Curia’s Levelling Up Commission

The Levelling Up Commission is considering how the valuable aims of the levelling up agenda can be achieved from the perspective of local and regional government, as well as service providers across all four areas of public policy detailed below. All too often, levelling up is being done ‘to and for’ communities, rather than in partnership. The Commission intends to ensure this is led locally.

In particular, the Commission will consider how improved public service and infrastructural provisions can help to drive down regional inequalities across England. Through a series of inquiry sessions, written submissions, regional sprints and quantitative data analysis, the Commission will set out a series of recommendations, and an accompanying implementation plan to consider how regional inequalities can be reduced from the perspective of public service design and provision in four key areas:

  • Health and social care
  • Education, skills and training
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Criminal justice and rehabilitation

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