Now 'second home hotspots' gear up for their own fight against 'outsiders' snapping up holiday lets | Daily Mail Online

2022-06-15 18:41:41 By : Ms. Alisa Liu

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter and Jack Wright For Mailonline

Published: 17:04 BST, 14 June 2022 | Updated: 00:08 BST, 15 June 2022

Britain's 'staycation spots' are beginning to rise up against wealthy 'outsiders' who have been snatching up properties to convert into holiday lets and seaside boltholes after being inspired by Whitby's historic decision to ban out-of-towners buying new builds.

Residents in the fishing port on the Yorkshire coast turned out in their droves last night and won a landslide 93% vote to stop new builds being sold to rich Londoners amid mounting fears that families are being priced out of the housing market. 

Campaigners are today celebrating the result, saying that the referendum will highlight the problem of 'bonkers' prices forcing teachers, doctors and other key workers out of town while leaving it as a 'theme park' for wealthy second homeowners.

And it appears that Whitby's astonishing decision may have sparked a 'quiet revolution' among disgruntled residents in a string of historic seaside towns across Britain - from Lyme Regis, Salcombe and Falmouth to Tideswell and even St Ives.

Whitby councillor Philip Trumper today claimed that her town's example could 'inspire others to do the same', adding: 'There are lots of seaside resorts in the UK that are in a similar position. While a vote shows the strength of public opinion, it is not legally binding, so these areas will all have to change their local plans'.

Speaking to MailOnline, Falmouth town councillor Jayne Kirkham said that the people of Cornwall, Devon, Cumbria, the Peak District and Wales will all have been watching the result of the Whitby referendum with 'great interest', and if successful, there could be more public votes.

One resident of Lyme Regis, Dorset, which is on the list, said they must push for similar ban to avoid becoming a 'zombie town' in Winter. Meanwhile architect and Kent coast resident Matt Hayes said that Whitstable - the top destination for second homeowners in the South East - could 'consider' backing its own ban on 'outsiders', 'given the plethora of Airbnb key safes you see dotted about'.

In the Peak District, mother Sharon Bates was reduced to tears at a council meeting as she claimed holidaymakers had forced house prices up so much that her sons had to leave Tideswell in Derbyshire, where her family has lived for four generations.

She said: 'My husband and I were both born and bred in Tideswell, our two children were also born and brought up in Tideswell. It's only in recent years that they've moved away due to not being able to afford property in the village. The park is a beautiful place to live and it makes me sad that our children and other children don't have the opportunity to stay here. Most properties end up as holiday cottages.'

Also speaking to MailOnline today, Ashford Price of The National Showcaves Centre for Wales said: 'I have a huge amount of sympathy with what's happened in Whitby. I believe that Welsh people have the right to live in Welsh homes, built by the Welsh, for the Welsh.'

Britain's 'staycation spots' including St Ives, Salcombe, Whitstable and Tideswell are beginning to rise up against wealthy 'outsiders' who have been snatching up properties to convert into holiday lets and seaside boltholes. It comes after Whitby locals turned out in their droves to vote to impose limits on second home owners

Whitby residents pictured queueing to vote in a referendum that will allow them to limit second home sales

File image shows a general view of the quaint English seaside town of Whitby in Yorkshire 

A map showing the most sought-after second home towns for British city dwellers, according to RightMove, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay all within the top six. Whitby sits at number nine in the list

Furious locals in Whitby won a landslide 95 per cent victory in the first round of a campaign to purge the seaside resort of holiday cottage owners who mainly live 250 miles away in London and the Home Counties. In some streets every single house is a holiday home in a resort where the average property price is now £254,218 - up 20 per cent in a year. But most locals are priced out because they earn an average of just £18,900.

LOCAL ART DEALER JOHN FREEMAN  

Reacting to the news today,  local art dealer John Freeman who trades in the market place, said: 'No one is listening to the people in Whitby.

'It is just money, money, money. That is the thing which is speaking loudest. It is appalling for local infrastructure. Virtually every shop in Whitby has a notice saying 'Staff Required' because the people who wold work in cafes or restraints have no way of living locally with the way wages are.

'The whole town is being forced into a downward spiral.'

GIFT SHOP OWNER DANNY WILSON  

Gift shop owner Danny Wilson

Gift shop owner Danny Wilson, 52, said: 'It is a fashionable thing to do to buy a second property. Meanwhile, I am living in a cellar. I cannot find a house. Whitby has to has a bit of artistic flair to make it the town it. Those sort of people are being priced out so there is nothing interesting happening in the community.

'All the pubs used to have local bands. People would come because we were artistic and interesting. But that's all gone because local people cannot afford to live here. I had enough money three years ago to put down on a place but prices are going up faster than I can save.'

Andrew Cavendish, 35, said: 'I am a tradesman at Whitby. If I get evicted from my property i would have to move away because there is not a rental that suits me and my three children that I can afford. I could not stay if I wanted to. It is ridiculous.

'Some big firms are snapping up former rental properties for sale and rent them out to workers. Customers are my bread and butter. But it is not a case there is no suitable housing. There is no housing for local people. It is a real issue.

'I will not be able to have my business in Whitby. My landlord is selling the house in spring so I am ready looking at houses outside Whitby.'

Fish and chip shop worker Danielle Brown

Fish and chip shop worker Danielle Brown, 46, told MailOnline: 'I am living in rented accommodation and would love to buy my own house. But the prices around here are ridiculous and I am skint. The houses are going up and up and up and I could not move out of my flat because there is absolutely nothing.'

Local rock shop owner Sarah Chambers, 36, added: 'It is a bit of nightmare. You have to look at it as a business person as a local.

'As a business owner for us it is great. It brings revenue to the town and that's what pays our wages. But I get the point first time buyers cannot get on the property ladder.

'So I can see both sides and that is why I did not vote. Staffing is a big issue. We cannot get the staff for seasonal wages. It is absolutely crazy. There is a lot of holiday homes in Whitby but it brings a lot of trade so it is a tough one and there will be a witch hunt in Whitby about this. I am a local but have a holiday home as well.'

St Ives in northern Cornwall voted for a second home ban six years ago, but the jury is still out on whether it has helped because house prices have remained high. The new house ban has also seen new developments pop up outside restricted areas of the town.

Cllr Kirkham said that Cornwall has enough holiday lets and second homes than to house all 22,000 people on the area's waiting list - and the Government must devolve more powers to the county so they can clamp down on the issue.

She said: 'We have a real crisis in Cornwall and we need more control over planning rules. Too much of the power is in the Government's hands. They can solve this problem. But we need a suite of powers, not just a ban on second home owners buying new builds. In Wales they are doubling or even trebling council tax, a council tax loophole for second homes has not been properly closed and in Scotland there is a register of holiday lets and Airbnbs. We need that here'.

She added: 'The people of Whitby will need to do more things to solve the problem'.

Meanwhile in Wales, tourism leaders have reacted with horror to confirmation of new occupancy rules for second homes and holiday lets.

From April 1, 2023, the Welsh Government will insist that self-catering properties are let for at least 182 days each year in a move critics say will 'decimate' the Welsh tourism industry. At the moment lets only have to pay the cheaper business rate if they are used for 70 days. But from next year they need to let them out for at least 182 days or will have to pay more expensive council tax. 

Holiday lettings firm Finest Retreats, which promotes 29 holiday cottages in Wales, warned the challenging occupancy target will hit rural economies the hardest by driving up prices and making the country a 'less attractive place to visit'.

Talking about Wales' experience, Mr Ashford told MailOnline: 'In a way, we're starting at the other end of the process, because the Welsh authorities have more or less decided to make it their policy to put expensive seaside cottages on the market in order to get rich people from England to buy them, knowing that prices are going up and are not falling anytime soon.

'The Welsh Government's launched a big crackdown on second homes which means that, from next April, holiday homes have to be let out for more than 182 days a year. This means that a great number of self-catering businesses are going to be absolutely clobbered by the new rules. Some experts have said up to 1,400 businesses could go under, and thousands could lose their job.

'So all of a sudden, these lovely homes in idyllic parts of Wales are going to go on the market, going to become available, and who do you think they're going to be bought by? Not by the Welsh, who will then be out of work and poor. No, it will be from wealthy English people with money to spare who want to make an investment.'

Visit Cornwall's chief executive Malcolm Bell told MailOnline that a 'perfect storm of historical factors' including Covid and the WFH revolution, years of investment in Cornwall's infrastructure including its roads, airports and broadband, and low interest rates has caused city folk with inheritance money to splash their cash on 'bricks and mortar' in the South West.

He said: 'We can't just get mad at people coming down with all their money and shout at them. Instead, we need to get behind solutions to the problems we face as a community.

'Yes, we don't want too many people coming to these smaller towns and villages. It's not wholly good for the local community, and it causes damage to the environment as well. But we don't want this to flip the other way and cause anti-tourism. People down this way are generally more friendly than in other parts of the country, but they won't be endlessly nice and polite. 

'At the moment, people are attacking the symptoms, not the disease. This has been caused by a perfect storm of historical factors. 

'One is the creation of a property-owning society which really expanded under Thatcher in the 1980s. Another is all this money that people have inherited, and they've looked at the market and seen that interest rates are low and the stock market is stable, and they figure it's a good time to buy.

'Then, Cornwall has become much more connected. There's been a lot of investment in airports and roads, and we've got super-fast broadband too, which is attractive to a lot of people from cities looking to buy out cottages as second homes or to let out for holidays.

'And then the big recent change has been Covid. I think a lot of people working from home for most of the last couple of years have looked at their lives and decided they want to keep working from home, or they want a better lifestyle more generally. So they've looked around and Cornwall is attractive to them. But now you have this situation where locals now see all these people with all this money coming down and buying up places, and the rage has grown. 

'It has become a lightning rod for all their other grievances.'

Furious locals in Whitby won a landslide 95 per cent victory in the first round of a campaign to purge the seaside resort of holiday cottage owners who mainly live 250 miles away in London and the Home Counties. In some streets every single house is a holiday home in a resort where the average property price is now £254,218 - up 20 per cent in a year. But most locals are priced out because they earn an average of just £18,900.

Reacting to the news today,  local art dealer John Freeman who trades in the market place, said: 'No one is listening to the people in Whitby.

'It is just money, money, money. That is the thing which is speaking loudest. It is appalling for local infrastructure. Virtually every shop in Whitby has a notice saying 'Staff Required' because the people who wold work in cafes or restraints have no way of living locally with the way wages are.

'The whole town is being forced into a downward spiral.'

Gift shop owner Danny Wilson, 52, said: 'It is a fashionable thing to do to buy a second property. Meanwhile, I am living in a cellar. I cannot find a house. Whitby has to has a bit of artistic flair to make it the town it. Those sort of people are being priced out so there is nothing interesting happening in the community.

'All the pubs used to have local bands. People would come because we were artistic and interesting. But that's all gone because local people cannot afford to live here. I had enough money three years ago to put down on a place but prices are going up faster than I can save.'

Andrew Cavendish, 35, said: 'I am a tradesman at Whitby. If I get evicted from my property i would have to move away because there is not a rental that suits me and my three children that I can afford. I could not stay if I wanted to. It is ridiculous.

'Some big firms are snapping up former rental properties for sale and rent them out to workers. Customers are my bread and butter. But it is not a case there is no suitable housing. There is no housing for local people. It is a real issue.

Average house price:  £254,218 in 2021 - up from £217,620 in 2020

Distance from nearest city: 47 miles (from York) - 115 minutes by train/bus or 75 minutes by car

Most properties have since been gobbled up as second homes or holiday lets by urban outsiders 'within hours of being listed', with rocketing prices – in some cases, almost doubling in the past eight years – now preventing many families from getting their foot on the housing ladder. 1,600 homes alone are now second homes or holiday lets. 

Angry residents have blasted the 'absolute nightmare' trend of staycationers buying local homes, and are now calling for 'more balance', warning that those who have lived in Whitby for decades are seeing the community dwindle

'I will not be able to have my business in Whitby. My landlord is selling the house in spring so I am ready looking at houses outside Whitby.'

Pensioner Steve Roberts and his partner had their hearts set on retiring to Whitby but cannot now afford their dream home.

He said: 'I am originally from Oxford and the same thing has happened in the Cotswolds.As the old people die, the move the property to people who have come in with money. Then they develop the property and the value goes up so no one locally can afford to buy that property.

'Houses around here used to be cheap and chips. Now town is dead for half a year because of the number We did want to retire here but I cannot afford to buy a property here.'

Fish and chip shop worker Danielle Brown, 46, told MailOnline: 'I am living in rented accommodation and would love to buy my own house. But the prices around here are ridiculous and I am skint. The houses are going up and up and up and I could not move out of my flat because there is absolutely nothing.'

Local rock shop owner Sarah Chambers, 36, added: 'It is a bit of nightmare. You have to look at it as a business person as a local.

'As a business owner for us it is great. It brings revenue to the town and that's what pays our wages. But I get the point first time buyers cannot get on the property ladder.

'So I can see both sides and that is why I did not vote. Staffing is a big issue. We cannot get the staff for seasonal wages. It is absolutely crazy. There is a lot of holiday homes in Whitby but it brings a lot of trade so it is a tough one and there will be a witch hunt in Whitby about this. I am a local but have a holiday home as well.'

Huge queues formed outside polling stations yesterday as residents voted in their droves in a referendum asking if they agreed that 'all new build and additional housing' in Whitby be restricted to those using them 'as a primary residence'. 

And at midnight it was announced that of the 2,228 votes cast, there were 2,111 votes in favour and only 157 against, with 18 ballot papers rejected or spoiled.

While the result of the referendum does not carry legal weight, the thousands of locals who want a clamp down on second homes will now go to the local council with a mandate to crack down on second-home ownership.

Scarborough Borough Council, which controls planning in Whitby, has already agreed to adopt it to their local plan in an unanimous vote earlier this year, meaning that the ban on second homeowners buying new build houses and flats or plots in Whitby is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

Whitby Community Network said in a statement today: 'The poll results clearly demonstrate the strength of feeling in the local community on these two issues.

'We trust that our elected councillors will take note and take action.

'Thanks to all the people who helped to make the poll happen - to all the voters who turned out in person - and to all the staff who took part in the late night count.'

Huge queues former outside polling stations yesterday as Whitby (pictured) residents voted to end second home ownership in the North Yorkshire resort

What has Whitby voted for?

Whitby residents resoundingly backed a policy that new-build properties to be reserved for locals. There were 2,111 votes in favour and only 157 against.

The policy will be added the local plan put together by Scarborough Borough Council, which is in charge of planning matters in Whitby and the surrounding part of North Yorkshire. 

It will go out to consultation in September and if approved by the council, it will be in place by the end of the year.

It will mean that after that, any new homes built in Whitby and the surrounds could only be sold to first time buyers or those without a second home. 

Will it make any difference?

Campaigners say the changes will help locals get on the property ladder - or stay in the area - as property prices spiral. 

It has been successfully imposed in St Ives, Cornwall. 

But only 265 new homes have been created in the centre of Whitby over the last decade. 

And there are already 1,680 holiday lets and second homes in the town - and there will be no bar on rich out-of-towners buying up existing cottages and flats.

What else do campaigners want? 

Campaigners are backing Government plans giving local authorities the power to double council tax on second homes in plans announced in May's Queen's Speech. 

Under the new rules, English local authorities will gain 'discretionary powers' to levy a premium of up to 100 per cent on council tax bills for second homes that are furnished but not occupied as a sole or main residence.

The hike will be imposed on properties are not either regularly used or let out by their owners for at least 70 days per year. 

This could come into law in the next year.

Whitby residents have also written to Michael Gove, Levelling Up Secretary, asking him to impose new planning rules that would mean that any home owner who wants to change the use of their property to a holiday let must apply to the local planning authority for permission first. 

Andrea Tyreman, 52, who voted for the ban, told MailOnline last night: 'Second home owners should be burned out.

'I have lived in Whitby all my life. We live on a street with about 40 houses and there are six of us left. The rest are full of Southerners.

'There is no community left. One house on the corner went for £290,000 How many locals can afford that? Only six months ago the same houses were going for £160,000.

'After Covid people decided they were going to buy properties here. Something needs to be done.'

Others said that their children have been forced to move away from the town because some cottages are now £100,000 more expensive than a year ago, with one local declaring: 'You cannot get a shed for under £250,000'.

A similar vote in St Ives, Cornwall, was held in 2016 and has led to the same restrictions on new builds being sold as second homes.

There are also proposals included in the Queen's Speech to charge second home owners double the rate of council tax for second homes - which may also be in place in 2023.

There are also calls for Michael Gove, Boris Johnson's Levelling Up minister, to force second home owners to apply for permission to change the use of their home to a holiday let such as AirBnbs.  

Seething locals say Captain Cook's old port of Whitby has been swamped with holiday cottages - sending local house price sky high. Many of the properties are bought by people from the Home Counties with little or no links to the area.

Local businesses cannot get staff because the area is too expensive to attract new people while existing residents are forced to buy elsewhere.

Campaigner and local politician Philip Trumper said: 'It's becoming a theme park, basically. And that's something that we don't want to happen. I think we're at a tipping point.

'What we are finding is Whitby house prices are unaffordable to local people and they are having to leave the town and move away to work, making it unsustainable for the community.

'Every day I speak to local people whose loved ones have had to move away and find a job closer to where they are living.'

On Thursday teatime and into the evening, locals were out in force to deliver a devastating protest vote at the first local referendum in more than a decade.

Queues built up outside the main poling station - scotching forecasts by town hall bureaucrats of a 'low turnout'.

Residents were asked to answer 'Yes' or 'No' to the question: 'Should all new build and additional housing in Whitby Parish be restricted to full time local occupation as a primary residence only and forever (in perpetuity)?'

Local secondary teacher Tricia Kelly, 61, said: 'I moved to Whitby five years ago and in my street almost every single house is a holiday home. But worse than that it is all big organisations.

'Companies are buying them and that is what people are upset and concerned about. We have just started a little community shop.

'We have started to have more of a sense of community since Covid I guess. It has united people and they are thinking Whitby does not want to go the same way Cornwall and other places have gone.

'This is just a way of galvanising our thoughts about it. I was and bred around here. I may not be from Whitby but I am a Yorkshire girl.'

Another concerned resident, self employed Peter Mitchell, 65, said: 'There is a lot of bad feeling in town about the number of holiday homes.

'I have lived here all my life and the town is going downhill rapidly. Parking is a problem. House prices are going through the roof and local kids cannot afford them.

'We have not got enough facilities in the town to cover the growth. We have one dentist, one doctor and a hospital which has been cut by 75 per cent.

'I hope this poll achieves something and it is not just brushed under the carpet.'

A steady stream of voters turned up to cast their votes at the half dozen polling stations dotted around port in venues including a local library, pub and school.

The busiest polling station at Whitby Leisure saw long queues from when the polls opened at 4pm on Monday.

One electoral official said: 'It has been heaving. There were queues out the door. There have been 40 to 50 in the queue and has been since the polls opened.

'It has been a much higher turn out than expected for what is normally a little parish poll. It is obviously a very emotional topic for he locals.'

Gillian Watmugh, 53, said: 'On my street alone there is at least 17 second holiday homes - about half the 40 houses on the street. House prices are sky high.

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The busiest polling station at Whitby Leisure saw long queues from when the polls opened at 4pm on Monday

'My daughter is born and bred in Whitby and had to go to Middlesbrough to buy a house. She works at James Cook Hospital as an HCA.

'They could not afford buy here anyway. I can't afford to move, even though I own my own house, because they are too expensive. I have lived here all my life. Where I live by the railway used to be all first time buyers. Now they are all second homes.

'They going for two, to three hundred thousand plus. There are some going for £350,000.'

Wendy Townsend, also 60, said: 'We live on Park Terrace and at the bottom end there are only about nine houses - and we have got five holiday lets.

'We have been living next to an Airbnb for the last three years. It causes a whole amount of problems with parking, with people parking on the pavement.

'One house near us went up for sale last year for £285,000. It went back on for sale last week for £385,000. The estate agent must be laughing all the way to the bank.

'It has gone up £100,000 in a year. It has been done up from top to bottom and now instead of number 25 it is called Ebb Tide because they have always got to give them a name.

'We have lived in our house 40 years and this is damaging our community. There is a lady two doors from us who has lived for two years without any real neighbours.'

Her husband Colin Townsend, 60, added: 'We have complained about the parking but the police push you onto the council and you go around and around in circles. It used to all first time buyers down here, like it was for us. Now, no one local can afford them. It is absolutely ridiculous.

'I would just stop any more housing becoming holiday homes. Every single time a house gets sold who ever is buying it says it is for themselves. But you know it's not. As soon as they've bought it we know very well it is going to be a holiday home. There has got to be a way of policing it.

'There needs to be something in writing to stop them being sold as holiday homes. There is enough in town as it. We don't need any more. 

'During Jubilee weekend, we had a family of four next door with two dogs and they left the dogs in while they went out. The dogs were just howling and barking because they were in a strange place.'

So, who is selling all the homes being bought by 2...

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