Second home ban set to be explored

A new development on he gasworks in Marina Way, Brighton was cited as an example of new builds being marketed at second-home owners

The council is considering banning new builds being used as holiday lets or second homes.

Councillors are being asked to approve the development of a principal residence policy (PRP).

Similar policies, which require a new build to be the owner’s main home, exist in small, rural and coastal communities around the country, but not yet in any cities or large urban areas.

But officers warn blanket bans have not been proven to work – and in some cases have even been counterproductive.

Instead, they propose a policy which would work in a similar way to HMO restrictions, with a ban only coming into force once a saturation threshold is met.

Labour councillor Gill Williams, who previously chaired the council’s Housing Committee, asked the full council meeting for the report to look at ways to impose new build restrictions.

When she put the case, the East Brighton ward councillor said: “Many families, key workers and people of all ages are being priced out of our city by the lack of affordable housing.

“Our communities are suffering because of the sky-rocketing costs of homes – and lack of control on the second home market is a major contributor to this.

“We must do all we can to prevent the development of high-cost apartments such as the gasworks, which is looming – and these are marketed specifically at the wealth investment market.”

A report before the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee on Thursday, 16 June said research by the London School of Economics in 2019 suggested in St Ives, Cornwall, new builds had slowed.

Instead, buyers started targeting existing housing for second home purchases since St Ives introduced a PRP.

Brighton and Hove 2011 Census information found that 1.7 per cent of the city’s 126,827 “household spaces” were second or holiday homes – roughly 2,150.

As of March 2022, the website found 3,118 properties in the city marketed as short-term holiday lets – although this figure will be a mix of pure holiday lets and people occasionally letting out their homes when they’re away.

According to the report, there is a lack of published evidence on the effectiveness of PRPs in reducing second home ownership and improving housing affordability.

From April 2023, second homeowners must prove their holiday lets are rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to qualify for small business rates relief.

The report said: “A second home that is frequently occupied can bring economic benefits to the community through occupiers supporting local businesses and services.

“Second homes that are unused for much of the year provide little or no benefit to the community.

“Large numbers of second homes and holiday lets can reduce the availability of long-term private rental housing and have an adverse impact on local communities and the sustainability of local facilities.

“If not well managed, short-term holiday lets can cause anti-social behaviour.”

A PRP cannot be used retrospectively to second homes in recent new builds or applied to existing housing stock.

Councillors are advised to avoid a city-wide policy as it is difficult to justify.

Members are asked to consider a “supportive policy” in the city plan to guide neighbourhood plans or a neighbourhood plan policy.

Both policies would introduce restrictions on second homes once 20 per cent or more housing is used for that purpose.

A city plan policy would review and identify hotspots, whereas the neighbourhood plan policy would allow neighbourhood forums to restrict second homes in their areas.

The 20 per cent figure comes from an analysis of areas adopting similar policies as that proportion is considered a “tipping point” or “trigger of harm” for communities.

Before moving forward with a PRP, the council would need to analyse the 2021 census to find the number of second homes in the city and review ward-level information to establish the hot spots.

The Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee meets at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Thursday 16 June.

  1. EbenerzerH Reply

    About time that controls on 2nd homes and short term lets are introduced. The latter in particular increase amenity problems in residential neighbourhoods and the returns are a huge disincentive to rent to families and single peopke on normal tenancies. Plenty of other countries including Scotland now have controls. The flaw in the above report seems to be the reliance on neighbourhood forums deciding to do it as there sre very few of them.

  2. Robert Pattinson Reply

    So many 9f the new builds are constantly in darkness at night so they are not helping with the housing shortage. My friend live in a block at Brighton marina hardly any are used as full time homes. They are a way of getting money into the country.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Sadly, Robert, those of us who live in the very near vicinity of the Marina and the gasworks (in my case, the gasworks proposals would block off all of my already very limited sunlight and even daylight, just for the sake of a greedy developer’s plan for unaffordable investment flats for probably overseas buyers, plus the many years of disruption while the greedies excavate a toxic site). We who live in the immediate neighbourhood, and I have done for close on 20 years, are well aware of the situation in the Marina, where they built those very ugly, windswept concrete blocks. The flats in them are mega-expensive (around half a million upwards) and, as far as I can tell, there are few actual permanent residents. You only have to look at estate agents’ websites for the Marina and these monstrosities are always on there, almost begging for buyers or renters.

      The gasworks proposal is more or less the same as the Marina thing – unaffordable for anybody around here and not very nice anyway. Just another cynical attempt by greedy developers to make money.

      Objectors to the gasworks thing (and there are many hundreds of us, most of whom live near to the site) have been accused of being nimby, but we are not. We want the site developed, but in nothing like the way currently proposed. What we are looking for on the site is fairly low-rise development, with properties that are actually halfway affordable for locals, whether via rental, part-rental/purchase or whatever. Such homes could actually be built from sustainable materials off-site and more or less dropped in without the very worrying major excavations that these developers want. What we want is a little community over there that is alive, vibrant and something we could be part of.

      The Labour initiative on second homes is to be welcomed (I am not a Labour voter, but take my metaphorical hat off to Gill Williams, Nancy Platts et al for trying to get this second homes ban through, which, if implemented, might at least send these greedy developers off for a major re-think.) When you consider it, they want to dump down an unaffordable mini-Manhattan, as one objector rightly termed it, on to a smallish plot with all sorts of unknown toxins and old gas pipes underneath, whereas they could, if minded, which they obviously are not, leave the site mainly undisturbed re excavation, cap/level it off and put down some low-rise halfway-affordable homes for real people to live in who actually need somewhere to live. This is actually what we hundreds of objectors want.

      • Chris Reply

        Could not put it better myself…

        • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

          Last time I was in the Marina, Chris, pre-Covid, the local starlings had set up a big roost right on top of the new concrete monstrosities, and they don’t generally do this if there are humans very immediately beneath them. By now, the heavy bomber gulls may also have moved in, which would mean industrial scale concrete-like poop down the walls, which is exactly what the unaffordable and hardly occupied gasworks development would be like if built as proposed (which it can’t be, as more or less all important consultees have raised major objections about fire hazards, transport issues, health etc and want many answers to very big questions). The developers have been totally silent to the public for a very long time – although they may well be talking to the Planning Dept, but we who would be severely affected are not allowed to know anything that’s going on about that.

          I see also that Planning Committee is now belatedly coming round to the idea that developers can’t just pay a sum of money for affordable homes to be built ‘elsewhere’ and carry on regardless – there is no viable ‘elsewhere’ for a large number of affordable homes in this constrained city, unless we’re talking about an offshore submerged Atlantis.

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