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Call for tougher planning controls on second homes in Scotland

Words: Roger Milne
Empty homes / Shutterstock_58881677

The Scottish Green Party has called for action on empty and second homes, including stiffer planning controls, after publishing a report that suggests there has been a rapid rise in short-term letting.

The report revealed that:

  • the five council areas with the greatest proportion of empty homes are rural (Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Borders and Argyll & Bute);
  • the five council areas with the greatest number of empty homes are predominantly urban (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City); and
  • the five neighbourhoods with the largest number of empty homes are in deprived areas (Toryglen and Carnwadric in Glasgow, Clydebank, Kildrum in North Lanarkshire, and Port Glasgow in Inverclyde).

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP said that although the number of second homes has fallen slightly (from 38,249 in 2012 to 25,713 in 2017), this had been offset by the rapid rise in short-term letting. 

“Second homes now account for almost 50 per cent of properties in some areas, depriving local people of affordable housing and undermining public services” he argued.

The Greens want second homes to require change of use planning permission. The party also wants councils to be encouraged to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire domestic property that has lain empty for more than two years.

Wightman said: “People are crying out for affordable housing, yet we have a total of over 100,000 empty and underused second homes across the country. It's incredulous that the proportion of empty homes is rising and astonishing that not all councils have empty homes officers to bring properties into use.”

The report can be found on the Scottish Green Party website.

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