A Norfolk business that rents out hundreds of cottages to holidaymakers has been sold to a leading holiday lettings agency.

Original Cottages, which has been owned by the same family for 30 years, has been taken over by Devon-based firm Travel Chapter for an undisclosed amount.

The sale comes at a time of growing controversy surrounding second homes in Norfolk.

Earlier this year it was revealed that north Norfolk had the highest number of second homes anywhere in England and Wales outside of London. At the time Tim Adams, Liberal Democrat leader of North Norfolk District Council, said that the numbers of second homes in parts of his district are "out of control".

In some areas along the Norfolk coast almost half of properties are holiday lets, seeing the villages dubbed Airbnb-on-Sea.

Critics believe that high numbers of second homes in the region are pricing out locals and undermining the economic and social life of villages.

Those in support of holiday lets highlight that they help local economies by creating jobs and bringing tourists to the area.

Reepham-based Original Cottages owns a number of holiday let brands across the UK including Norfolk Cottages and Suffolk Secrets.

The company was founded by Richard and Lesley Ellis in 1992 and was previously known as Cottage Holidays. It changed its name in 2017 and reported that in the 12-month period after its name change it had seen a 41pc increase in bookings.

Its sale sees its holiday let portfolio pass on to Travel Chapter, which will now oversee the renting of these properties.

The company has not revealed whether Original Cottages will continue operating under its current branding or under Travel Chapter.

A spokesperson for Travel Chapter said that the firms were of a similar size and had customer care as their priority.

Jayne McClure, CEO of Travel Chapter said that she was "excited" about the sale and that both companies have a "strong family heritage".

She added: “We’re looking forward to combining the skills and expertise of our brilliant teams to deliver for our property owners on both a local and national level, as well as providing a greater choice of special places to stay to our valued customers across both the Travel Chapter and Original Cottages brands.”