The beautiful UK county planning ‘tourist tax’ to battle rich second homeowners
A beautiful UK county, renowned for its unique national park, is considering adding a new tourist tax on holiday lets in an attempt to raise tax which can’t be gathered due to a rise in second homeowners.
North Norfolk District Council wants to add a £1 tourist levy on Airbnb bookings due to the pushing out of local council tax payers in the area, reports The Telegraph.
The county, which is home to Prince William and Princess Kate’s Sandringham Estate, has one of the highest proportions of second homes in the UK.
Towns like Blakeney, Sheringham and Wells-next-the-Sea have been impacted by the issue – there was even a proposal to ban second homes in Burnham Market, dubbed Chelsea-on-Sea.
The problem has led to a shortage of available housing for locals while other properties sit empty. Some villages have seen the closure of local services, such as GPs, with one resident warning: “People without a car will struggle”.
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North Norfolk Council leader Tim Adams said: “Lots of second homeowners aren’t paying for local services right now. It’s about democratic localism. People are upset.
“We don’t want to put off tourists, but equally they don’t seem to be complaining about similar taxes in the likes of Paris.”
Both Paris and Amsterdam are known for their tourist taxes in which visitors pay between twenty-five cents and five euros a night, depending on their accommodation type and which area of the city they’re staying in.
The situation in Norfolk though is causing a rift between locals and “out-of-towners” – with accusations that the homes are left “in darkness” for most of the year, while also lamenting the army of supermarket delivery vans that supply the visitors, who shun local shops.
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In some villages, parish councils won’t accept membership from those who own a second property, while the village of Blakeney has created a new rule whereby new developments can’t be bought by those who already own a home or want to let it to visitors.
Meanwhile, some celebrated as councils will soon be able to apply 100 percent council tax premiums on second homes – however, there’s an easy way out. These homeowners will be able to get around it by setting their house up as a business, allowing them to avoid extra council tax and instead pay cheaper business rates.
Andrew Brown, cabinet member for planning and enforcement at North Norfolk District Council, would like to see a control on the numbers of second homes being built – “that way, when we reach a certain number of second homes – say 35 percent – we can stop giving out change-of-use classes and say we’re maxed out.”
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