25 February 2013

Andrew Wallis, an Independent unitary councillor, has proposed that Cornwall Council urge the government to make the creation of ‘second homes’ subject to planning consent. You can read the terms of the proposal here and on page 292 here. His proposal is supported by two other Independent councillors and two from Mebyon Kernow (MK).

I think the proposal is well meant and discusses an important issue but I think there are also questions about the possible effects of the proposal on housing and communities. I set out a few of these questions.

Effect on the number and prices of affordable houses
1 How many additional lowcost affordable houses for purchase or social housing for rent will be built or created in Cornwall as a result of this proposal becoming law (that is, over and above those that would be built or created if the proposal was discarded)? How is this calculation made?

2 How many houses presently unaffordable for purchase by local wage earners will become affordable to them as a result of the proposal becoming law? How is this calculation made?

3 If the proposal becomes law what effect will this have on the value of houses in Cornwall which presently have second home status? How much will they rise or fall? How is this calculation made?

4 If the proposal becomes law what effect will this have on house prices in Cornwall generally? How much will they rise or fall? How is this calculation made?

5 What effect will restricting the building of houses which people wish to buy as a second home have on the construction industry and on the number of lowcost affordable homes built with subsidy from developments of market-price housing?

Definitions and implementation
6 Exactly which house usages are intended to fall within the scope of the proposed change? What is the definition to be used for the various types of ‘second homes’?

7 What principles will the planning authority employ in deciding applications to change the use of a house to a ‘second home’?

8 What proportion of applications for change to a second home are expected to be refused if the proposal becomes law?

9 How will the proposed change be realised? For example, how will the council know whether a house is being used in a way that falls within the need for planning permission.

10 What happens when a house with second home status is sold? Does it retain its status automatically or does that status have to be applied for by the prospective purchasers or new owners?

11 As a result of this proposed change how many shops, schools, pubs, and doctors surgeries will remain open in their present location in Cornwall that would otherwise close or move? How is this calculation made?

Same hymn sheet
Andrew Wallis says on his website that the proposal is “not about stopping or banning these types of dwelling”. MK’s housing policy includes the introduction of “planning restrictions to stop and then reverse the spread of second homes”. I am not sure what MK means by “stop” means here but does it mean not granting planning permission for any more at all? MK does not say how a reversal will be achieved.

UPDATE 26 February 2013
Cornwall Council voted to support Wallis’s motion on 26 February. The questions remain.