It has long been argued by some opposition groups that local people in rural and tourist areas of Wales are being deprived of a place to live as demand for second homes and short-term holiday lets continues to grow.
More than 5,000 people signed a petition earlier this year calling on the Welsh government to intervene and change planning rules to “ensure community control of the housing market”.
The government now looks set to act.
In the Senedd later today, Julie James, the minister for climate change, who is responsible for housing, will set out an “ambitious three-pronged approach” to address the impact of second home ownership on Wales’ communities.
She is expected to argue that the new plan ‘has fairness at its heart’ – ensuring that everyone in Wales ‘can have access to good quality, affordable housing’.
The three-pronged approach will focus on:
Support – addressing affordability and availability of housing,
regulatory framework and system – covering planning law and the introduction of a statutory registration scheme for holiday accommodation; and
a fairer contribution – using national and local taxation systems to ensure second home owners make a fair and effective contribution to the communities in which they buy.
There will also be a pilot area in Wales – to be decided over the summer – where these new measures will be trialled and evaluated before being considered for wider rollout.
Other supporting actions, including the work on a registration scheme for all holiday accommodation and a consultation on changes to local taxes to manage the impact of second homes and self-catered accommodation, will also begin over the summer.
A Welsh Language Community Housing Plan, to protect the particular interests of Welsh language communities, will be published for consultation in the autumn.
Last year, Wales became the only country in the UK to give local authorities the power to charge 100% council tax increase on second homes.
James said: “The continuing rise of house prices mean people, especially younger generations, can no longer afford to live in the communities they have grown up in. A high concentration of second homes or holiday lets can have a very detrimental impact on small communities, and in some areas could compromise the Welsh language being spoken at a community level.
“We have already taken strides on some of these issues – last year we became the only nation in the UK to give local authorities the power to introduce a 100% council tax levy on second homes. But the urgency and gravity of this situation calls for further intervention, which means real and ambitious actions are delivered at pace, to inject fairness back into the housing system.
“Taking recommendations from Dr Brooks’ report, our new three-pronged approach will kick-start a summer of action which will determine how we tackle this issue now and into the future. I am calling on all political parties across the Senedd to get involved in this, as we look to empower our communities to exercise their right to live in good quality homes, wherever they are in Wales.”