Plaid urges minister to tackle second-homes crisis

Plaid Cymru has taken its case for controlling second homes in communities to Welsh Government ministers.

In a meeting organised with the planning Minister Julie James last night to discuss the issue Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS, said it was high time that the Welsh Government allowed councils to act to safeguard communities and cap the number of second homes. He and fellow Plaid Cymru colleagues Rhun ap Iorwerth and Delyth Jewell had called for the meeting to tackle the urgent problem of second homes in Wales.

Plaid Cymru recently published a 16-page report [see link below] containing five main recommendations to tackle the crisis.

They included proposed measures to change planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes, allowing councils to charge council tax premiums of up to 200% on second homes and ensuring the Welsh Government brought forward regulations to treble the Land Transaction Tax charge on the purchase of second properties.

Mr Gruffydd said: “The minister needs to take action now because this is an existential crisis for some parts of Wales. One in eight homes in Gwynedd are now second homes owned by people outside the county and these empty properties have knock-on effects on services locally, including schools.

“We also want the minister to close the loophole that allows second-home owners to register their property as ‘businesses’ in order to avoid paying the Council Tax premium.”

He also highlighted the need for a licencing scheme for renting properties through companies such as AirBnB to control the numbers and backed Plaid Cymru’s calls to empower councils to build houses with a local condition on them, make it easier to bring empty properties back into use and redefine the term ‘affordable home’, which currently includes properties worth over £250,000.

Plaid Cymru’s report looks to countries such as Canada, Denmark and Ireland for inspiration on tackling the problem. It states: “The challenges posed by having too many second homes are not confined to Wales.’ The report also refers to Northumberland and Camden’s efforts in England.

Mr Gruffydd added: “We in Wales need the powers to fix our problems ourselves, but the situation isn’t improving with over a third of homes sold in Gwynedd and Ynys Môn during the last financial year being purchased as second properties.

“We can’t go on like this. It’s not fair that people who are living in areas already disadvantaged in terms of a lack of work opportunities see their communities being transformed as locals have to move away in order to find a house they can afford.”

Further discussions are taking place on the matter.

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