‘Caution’ needed before ban on holiday properties in towns like Southwold

Generic Views of Southwold Harbour.

Generic Views of Southwold Harbour. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Communities in Suffolk with high proportions of second homes are unlikely to ban the holiday properties – fearing an impact on their economies.

Residents of St Ives in Cornwall have voted to ban second homes and new housing projects will get planning consent in future only if they are for full-time residents.

The decision though – part of the town's vote on its new Neighbourhood Plan – is likely to face a legal challenge in the High Court and Government ministers may also press for it to be reversed as it is feared it is discriminatory.

Suffolk communities working on their Neighbourhood Plans are watching developments closely, but are sceptical. In Aldeburgh some 30pc of the town's housing stock is second homes and in Southwold the figure is even higher at 36pc.

The Mayor of Southwold, Melanie Tucker, said people needed to be cautious about banning second homes and to think through the implications. She added: 'It's early days for the Neighbourhood Plan but it appears it would be possible to consider a ban, but a town plan must reflect the overall strategy of the district in which it sits.

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'I can understand the desire of residents in towns impacted by this imbalance and I can understand they could have strong feelings about it, and some residents have concerns about being priced out of the housing market, but any ban imposed – say like that envisaged – is always going to have knock-on implications which are not always apparent when the idea is first proposed. I think caution is important.'

She feared if homes were only to be sold to local people, housebuilders might go elsewhere, which would hold down the housing supply and drive up prices.

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People could find ways to get round the scheme – such as swapping their first and second home designation.

A ban could also affect villages and towns nearby without bans – simply transferring the problem. Southwold has a close relationship with Reydon, where homes have traditionally been less expensive, but a ban on second homes in Southwold could make property in Reydon and other nearby communities a target for second homeowners and more expensive.

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