Calls to curb “excessive” second home ownership in parts of Cumbria by changing the law would have a have a “devastating” effect on the economy.
That's the view of Colin Tomlinson (pictured),Director Michael CL Hodgson estate agents, part of H&H Group, in response to a motion put down by MP Tim Farron calling on the government to property owners to apply for planning permission if they want to change a family home in to a second home.
The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP – who has put down a motion in the House of Commons – believes the move would help to check second home ownership levels, which stand at 7.5% in South Lakeland and 5.4% in Eden according to estate agency Hamptons International.
But Mr Tomlinson believes that the proposal, if implemented, would create a planning “minefield” as well as damaging local economies.
He told in-cumbria: “The existing planning policies within South Lakeland and the National Park adequately cover the demands and needs of the present housing market and the proposed legislation would have a devastating effect on the local economy coupled with the associated knock on effect on the local labour force.
“The proposed motion, if successful, would also lead to a planning minefield; for example, what is the definition of a second home?”
Pointing to the fact that South Lakeland Planning Authority policy stipulates that 35% of all new build units within a new housing scheme must be “affordable”, he added: “Whilst sympathising with the plight of local residents who may not be able to afford to buy, there are an increasing number of affordable housing schemes, built by Housing Associations subsidised by the Government via the Homes & Communities Agency, developers and major building contractors which provide an important supply for this sector of the market, either on a shared equity basis or to rent. These schemes are in rural and urban locations.”
“To use a well-known expression, if it is not broken, it is not necessary to fix”.
Second home ownership has long been a contentious issue in around the Lake District National Park, and there has been speculation around the impact the recent World Heritage Status may have on house prices.
Mr Farron said he was keen for direct legal intervention to prevent damage to local communities.
He said: "Second home ownership has a massive impact on local communities across the South Lakes, with it often leading to the decline and closure of key local services like schools, bus services and shops.
“If our councils had the power to reject bids for second homes, they could better meet the needs of the local communities struggling with excessive second home ownership in a fair and effective way.”