Second homeowners could require planning permission if they want to use their property as a holiday let in a tourist hotspot in England, under new government proposals intended to prioritise “desperate” local families looking for a home.
A consultation has been launched on the plan, along with the suggestion of a registration scheme for holiday lets to gather data and increase understanding of the impact of short-term accommodation on communities.
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, said the move would help support local people in areas where high numbers of holiday lets are preventing them from finding affordable housing.
But his predecessor in the role, Tory MP Simon Clarke, criticised the plan, calling it “anti-business” and saying the priority for government should be building more homes.
The proposals – announced three weeks before the local elections – suggest creating a new planning use class for short-term lets that are not used as a sole or main home, though local councils would be able to decide whether to introduce the measure or not.
The consultation will also consider whether homeowners could let out their properties for a specific number of nights in a year before the requirement for planning permission kicks in.
The rules could be introduced as part of the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is currently making its way through parliament – depending on the consultation’s outcome – and would only apply to second homes in England.
Mr Gove said: “Tourism brings many benefits to our economy but in too many communities we have seen local people pushed out of cherished towns, cities and villages by huge numbers of short-term lets.
“I’m determined that we ensure that more people have access to local homes at affordable prices, and that we prioritise families desperate to rent or buy a home of their own close to where they work.”
Mr Clarke attacked the move on Twitter, saying: “So many of our interventions in the housing market, from anti-business ones like this to [very] costly demand-side subsidies like Help to Buy, stem from our failure to build enough homes, and to make the argument to the public about why this matters.”
His criticism was shared on social media by Robert Jenrick – another former Tory housing secretary, but one who now serves in government as the immigration minister.
But another Tory MP Steve Double, who represents St Austell and Newquay, insisted the plan was necessary, telling Sky News: “Too many local people in Cornwall have been unable to secure the housing they need due to the number of residential properties converter to holiday lets.
“This has meant that businesses and public services have struggled to recruit the staff they need as people cannot find anywhere to live.
“These measures will enable the local council to better manage the number of holiday lets and help ensure local people can access the houses they need.”
Asked if she would support the plan, Labour’s Angela Rayner said there were bigger issues in the wider housing market causing problems for those looking to own their own homes.
She told Sky News: “I think we’ve got to solve the situation that we currently face in this country where many people can’t get on the housing ladder and actually [the high rents] that are stopping rental accommodation now.
“Most people are now worried that they won’t even be able to afford to get a mortgage because mortgages have increased because of the disastrous budget that Liz Truss and the Conservatives put to the country recently.”
Ms Rayner said a Labour government would create more homes, including social homes, and give first-time buyers “first dibs” on newly built properties to help them onto the ladder.
The Labour-run Welsh government has already introduced a series of measures to make housing more affordable for people to rent or buy in their local areas.
It includes allowing councils to charge a premium of up to 300% on second-home council tax bills.