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Seaside Resort Votes to Ban Construction of New Homes

The seaside resort of St Ives has voted to ban the construction of second homes after a shortage of affordable housing was blamed on a huge increase in Cornish holiday properties.

Because the town is a popular tourist destination, the market for second homes has catapulted.

St Ives is also known as Kensington-on-Sea because so many wealthy holidaymakers own properties there. Complaints have arisen that this trend has led to rising market values and skyrocketing summer rents, both of which make it difficult for local residents to remain in the area.

In 2013 Devon communities Lynmouth and Lynton banned new second homes. Councils in north Devon, Derbyshire Dales, the Lake District, and the Isle of Wight are all considering similar measures.

In a recent poll, approximately 83.2% of voters supported the St Ives Area Neighbourhood Development Plan, which includes the promise to limit ownership of second homes. They backed proposals to provide new housing developments with planning permission only if the homes are reserved for people who live in the area year-round.

The referendum called upon residents to support a ban on building any homes other than principal residences, although older properties would still be available for purchase by those looking for second homes in St Ives.

 

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The local plan stresses that all new builds must be lived in as principal residences instead of second homes or holiday lets. Electoral rolls and medical centre records will be used to confirm that would-be owners live locally.

Mayor Linda Taylor hailed the results as confirmation that communities need a “mixture of skills, ages, and financial contribution” to flourish.

Cornwall Council has not yet decided whether to adopt the ban, but RLT Built Environment Limited, a Penzance architect firm, has already launched a judicial review bid against the council for permitting a referendum. Threats have also been made by developers to stop building new homes in the area, which could worsen the housing situation.

The planning portfolio director for Cornwall council said that the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group felt that the housing situation needed to be addressed, as the unchecked growth of seasonal residences in the area was not sustainable in the long term.

Many of these homes are purchased as pension investments and let out as holiday properties, sometimes for over £2,000 a week.

The 2011 census confirmed that there were no year-round residents in 25% of parish housing. In prime areas the figure rose as high as 48%.

In St Ives, house prices can exceed £1m. According to data collected by the plan’s authors, average property values are 17.1 times the annual salaries earned by local people. Figures collected by property website RightMove indicate that in 2015 the average price for a home in St Ives was £324,501, compared to the national average of £288,000.

Some local business owners are against the plan, saying that the referendum will have a negative impact on tourism and employment in St Ives. Builders will go elsewhere, seeing no profit in constructing low-cost homes. The result, they warn, will be damaged employment prospects for young people.

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