Burnham Market hotel owner hits back at criticism of second home owners

PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 April 2013

Brendan Hopkins outside The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Brendan Hopkins outside The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

The owner of an iconic north Norfolk hotel has criticised negative views about second home owners expressed by president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Andrew Motion said, “townies in the countryside” were “gutting” rural communities and blamed them for helping to create the housing shortage.

Mr Motion said: “I think there’s a question about whether second homes mean you have inert dormitory communities in the countryside through most of the week, very often lived in by people who scoot down in their cars, see their smart friends, don’t join in the life of the community and don’t feed into it.”

The CPRE president did not call for a ban on second home ownership, but said: “I would increase taxes on second homes to make it very expensive.”

Brendan Hopkins owns The Hoste Arms, in Burnham Market. The village is frequently referred to as Chelsea-on-Sea due to the high number of second home owners there.

Mr Hopkins said: “I think Mr Motion has a very one-dimensional point of view.

“I agree that local people should be able to get onto the property ladder, but to say that people should be heavily penalised just for having a second home is wrong. The idea that second home owners should need a special planning permission is also wrong.

“Tourism is vital to the Norfolk economy and second home ownership is part of that.

“Many second home owners do a lot to support local communities. Many fall in love with Norfolk and end up retiring here. And you often have a situation when one partner stays Norfolk during the week while the other works in London and comes back at the weekend.

“And I can’t see these so-called dormitory communities anywhere, certainly not in north Norfolk.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb believes second home owners should not be given discounts on council tax and there is a case for giving councils power to decide whether someone wanting to convert a permanent home into a second home gets planning permission.

He said: “Clearly people owning second homes bring money into the local area, however, where there are villages with a high percentage of homes bought up by second home owners it can have a massive impact on the viability of local schools, shops and post offices and it can rip the heart out of a local community.”

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