Sunday, 29 May 2022

‘Nobody left to run shops’ Fishing village heartbreak as second homeowners kill community

Mike Parry clashes with panel over second home ownership

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The locals of Robin Hood’s bay, a seaside spot around six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park are furious as house prices “go through the roof” as a result of the staycationers “killing” their community. The popularity of the town among British holidaymakers surged during lockdown after international holidays became far less viable.

Katie Wallis, who works at her boyfriend’s mother’s sweet store in the town, told Yorkshire Live: “The problem is there’s becoming so few locals now there’s hardly enough people to help run the shops and restaurants. I think it’s just at its capacity – there’s too many tourists to locals ratio.

“Everything’s just gone rocket high. For people like me and my boyfriend, trying to get our first property is ridiculous. Even renting is hard; a flat in Whitby the size of this shop will cost you £600 a month.

“It’s hard for me because I want them to come here but at the same time I do want to live here. I think there’s enough holiday cottages and I don’t think you can have more people.’

One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that housing issues were “killing” Robin Hood’s Bay, and estimated that there was now a 70:30 split between holiday homes and villagers.

She said that the locals were not knocking tourism, which helps “a lot of people”, but added: “not everyone does. And that’s what’s sad.”

Another local, Becca Oliver, further highlighted the issues facing the housing market in the village as a result of the influx of tourists.

She said: “In the last few years I can’t see how local families can afford properties around here because the prices are so high and people from London or wherever can afford it but local people can’t.

“It’s pushing people out and it’s worrying in terms of the school and things like that. Are we going to lose those sort of things?

“It’s finding that balance. I’m not slating holiday makers because we need them and we love having them but it’s about finding that balance for both.

“We have a great community with lovely people and we don’t want to lost that.”

Second homeowning has spiked during the pandemic, even leading the Welsh government to introduce a 300 percent tax hike for those following the trend to try and stop locals being priced out of the country’s property market.

Mark Drakeford announced that from April 2023 local councils can set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties by up to four times.

Ministers have stated that the change is intended to demonstrate that the second homes are being let as part of genuine holiday accommodation businesses that are substantially contributing to the local economy.

However, the spokesman for the Home Owners of Wales Group Jonathan Martin told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast that the move was “morally indefensible,” adding: “Where do they think we’re going to get this 300 per cent from?

“I can’t afford it, that’s for sure and I’m quite sure a lot of other people can’t afford it. It’s just astounding.”

Mr Martin, who lives in Altrincham and has a second home in Gwynedd, later added of second homeowners: “They love Wales, they love Welsh people, they love the Welsh language, they love the Welsh culture. That’s why they have a home there.”

Gwynedd has the highest number of second homes at 5,098 – 20 percent of all second homes in Wales.

While figures show that there were 24,873 second homes in Wales registered for council tax in January 2021, officials warned that the actual number could be much higher, as it does not include holiday units like AirBnbs and holiday lets.

The Welsh Conservatives have accused Mr Drakeford of “pandering to their nationalist coalition partners and punishing aspiration and investment”.

Climate change minister Julie James said: “We want people to be able to live and work in their local communities, but we know rising house prices are putting them out of reach of many people, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.

“There is no easy answer or quick-fix solution.

“This is a complex problem that requires a wide range of actions.

“We continue to carefully consider further measures that could be introduced, and these changes are the latest steps we are taking to increase the availability of homes and ensure a fair contribution is made.”

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