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Gwynedd sets out concerns about holiday homes

Words: Laura Edgar
Black Rock Sand, Morfa Bychan, Gwynedd / Shutterstock_1695122665

The holiday home ‘emergency’ within Gwynedd has reached a critical point, Gwynedd Council has said, with research suggesting measures that should be taken to address the situation.

The report was commissioned by Gwynedd Council’s cabinet and will be represented to the Communities Scrutiny Committee on 10 December.

Carried out over the past year, the research found:

  • Almost 60 per cent of local people are priced out of the housing market in the county;
  • Gwynedd has the highest percentage of holiday homes in Wales; and
  • 6,849 homes – 10.77 per cent – of Gwynedd’s housing stock are holiday homes or second homes compared with an all-Wales average of 2.56 per cent.

Gareth Griffith, Gwynedd Council cabinet member for the environment, said: “There have been concerns about the number of holiday homes in some areas of Gwynedd for many years. This new research confirms that this trend has intensified over recent years with the development of online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Bookings.com, which make it far easier to market residential units for holiday use.

“In some areas of the county, the situation is truly alarming with an AirDNA survey showing an increase of 915 per cent in available units in Gwynedd in the summer of 2019 as compared to January 2017.

“At a local level, county councils like Gwynedd are implementing policies and initiatives to enable local people to access the housing market. But, there is only so much that councils are able to do within current legislation, and there is an urgent need for Welsh Government to introduce all-Wales legislation before it becomes too late.”

Griffith explained that the council’s research notes the systems already in place to manage the situation in other countries that could be implicated in Wales.

“In Scotland, for example, a system is being introduced which will require all holiday units to obtain a license before they start letting as well as planning permission in some areas. Such a system in Wales would be a significant step forward, and we need to see the Welsh Government introducing similar rules.”

The council, Griffith added, is looking in detail at its local planning policies to see what steps it can take to control the situation.

Craig ab Iago, Gwynedd’s cabinet member for housing, added: “Ensuring a suitable supply of housing for local people to live in their communities is a key priority for us. But spiralling house prices due to the demand for holiday homes and second homes is pushing the fundamental right to a home in their own communities beyond the reach of local people in an increasing number of our communities.

“This research makes it crystal clear that action must be taken at the national level and there are many steps that need to be taken by the Welsh Government if we are to truly tackle the problem.”

The report the committee will consider calls on the Welsh Government to emulate what is happening in Scotland and amend the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order to include an additional use class for short-term holiday accommodation.

After consideration by the committee, the research will be discussed by the Gwynedd Council Cabinet on 15 December.

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