The increasing number of second homes in Wales, especially on the western seaboard, has become a mounting problem, one that has been cruelly exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Gwynedd, 40 per cent of the houses that go on the market every year are now bought as second homes.
The overuse of properties as second homes is driving local people out of the property market, putting unacceptable pressures on local services in peak season, and creating desolate, half-empty towns and villages in winter.
Many recommendations have been made recently, but have seen little in the way of robust action from the current Welsh Government. Plaid Cymru believes that it is the job of government to implement recommendations and deliver change. Last September, despite not being in government, Plaid Cymru published a cross-cutting plan Rebuilding our Communities: Plaid Cymru’s action plan on second homes that can be implemented across each area of government.
A Plaid Cymru Government will put this plan into action. We will:
- Change the planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes and to refuse permission for changing a dwelling from being a primary to a secondary residence.
- Allow councils to charge council tax premiums of up to 200 per cent on second homes and close the loophole that allows second homeowners to register their property as “businesses” in order to avoid paying the council tax premium.
- Bring forward regulations to treble the Land Transaction Tax charge on the purchase of second properties.
- Empower councils to build houses with a local conditions requirement that make it easier to bring empty properties back into use and redefine the term ‘affordable home’ (which currently includes properties worth over £250,000).
- Fund a pilot scheme to bring significant numbers of holiday homes into community ownership through public intervention in the existing housing market so that profits generated can be diverted to local developments such as the provision of social housing.