Mark Drakeford and Adam Price plan to tackle second homes ‘a complete failure’, says conservative MS

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Janet Finch SaundersMS

Mark Drakeford and Adam Price’s plan to tackle second homes will be “a complete failure” if they don’t focus on building new homes instead, a Tory member of Senedd has said.

Aberconwy Senedd member Janet Finch-Saunders, who is co-owner of several properties and a long-term critic of the Welsh government and Plaid Cymru’s plan to further regulate holiday homes and vacation rentals, said the proposals presented by both parties the leaders would not work.

Yesterday the Prime Minister and leader of Plaid Cymru announced that local authorities will be allowed to control the number of second homes in communities as part of a new crackdown.

The Prime Minister and leader of Plaid Cymru will also allow councils to require planning permission to turn a house into a holiday rental or second home. They will also require vacation rentals to require a business license.

But Janet Finch-Saunders said the policies would fall short of the goal of giving people the ability to afford to live in their communities.

“Adam Price talks about his desire to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’ – the ability to live and work in the communities they grew up in,” she said.

“Well, his supposedly radical program with Mark Drakeford is a complete failure.

“In short, this Welsh Labor and Plaid Cymru plan will not, as the Prime Minister claims, ensure that everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community.

“It is not a cap on the number of second homes and vacation rentals, new planning use classes, a statutory licensing regime, or a tax on variable land transactions, that will solve the crisis. housing. They are simply more bureaucracy in an effort to provide a false front than steps are taken to provide housing for residents.

“Tourist tax”

Janet Finch-Saunders instead called for the introduction of a number of policies:

  • Addressing affordability by building more homes, with a focus on creating mixed communities and developing on the fringes of communities in crisis;
  • Removal of block on as many as 10,000 new homes (including 1,700 affordable) due to NRW phosphorus guidelines;
  • Work with our local authorities to better promote the Empty Housing Loan;
  • Examine what steps can be taken to convert empty space above retail units into affordable and centrally located housing;
  • Amend TAN 6 to make it easier for children of farmers who live at home but work elsewhere to obtain planning permission to build houses on family land;
  • Restoring the right to buy in Wales: building housing for people on the outskirts of communities and reinvesting the proceeds from the sale in more social housing and protecting houses from sale for 10 years.

Welsh Tories have also accused the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru of taking the first steps towards a “tourist tax”.

Tom Giffard, Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, said: ‘To me this looks like the precursor to a tourism tax which will destroy the tourism sector in Wales and cost a lot of jobs.

“Ministers must ensure this scheme does not punish the people who work hard to keep our tourism businesses thriving, especially after the damage from pandemic restrictions.”

‘Radical’

Under proposals from the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, a new licensing regime for people who want to operate short-term holiday rentals, like Airbnb, is also planned.

Premier Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price made the announcement as part of their cooperation agreement.

The package includes changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer, a statutory licensing regime for all holiday rentals and plans for local authorities to raise property tax rates. land transactions on second homes and vacation rentals.

Local authorities have already been given the power to increase council tax on second homes by 300% from next year.

Mr Drakeford said: “Today we are setting out the next steps in a radical program to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community, whether buying or renting. a house.

“We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities – a country where people don’t have to leave to find good, rewarding work and a country people want to come and visit and experience.

“Tourism is vital to our economy, but having too many vacation properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not promote the health of local communities and excludes people from the local housing market.

“There is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to these problems. Any action we take must be right. We don’t want to create unintended consequences, which could destabilize the broader housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.

‘Emergency’

The package of measures announced today includes:

  • Amendments to the town planning regulations by the end of the summer. These will introduce three new classes of planning use – a primary residence, a secondary residence and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities, where they have evidence, may make changes to the planning system to require planning permission for the change of use from one class to another.
  • The Welsh Government will also introduce changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday rentals in any community.
  • Plans to introduce a statutory licensing regime for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday rentals, making licensing mandatory. This will help raise standards across the tourism industry.
  • Following a consultation on the local variation of land transaction tax in areas with a large number of second homes, work will begin today (Monday 4 July) with local authorities to develop a national framework so that they can apply for an increase in land transaction tax rates for second homes and vacation rentals. to apply in their region.

The Welsh Government has already confirmed that it will press ahead with plans for tax hikes on holiday lets who do not let their properties for more than half the year.

Following consultation, local authorities will be able from April 2023 to set housing tax premiums at 300% on second homes and long-term unoccupied housing.

The criteria for subjecting lodgings to professional rates instead of housing tax will also change at the same time, from 70 to 182 days.

Mr Price said: “We are committed to using a range of planning, tax and property levers to address second and unaffordable homes – and to do so urgently.

“The set of targeted measures that have been developed as a result of the constructive cooperation between Plaid Cymru and the government in this area will together begin to address the injustices in our housing system and make a real difference for people and communities across our nation.

“The goal is to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’ – the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up.”


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