Cornwall ban on second homes may expand

The ban on second homes in St Ives may be expanded across other areas in Cornwall, following a ruling by the High Court.

In May, more than 80 per cent of St Ives’ residents voted to ban the sale of new-build houses to second home buyers. Architectural firm RLT Built Environment Lrd, based in Penzance, challenged the decision to implement the referendum vote, but the High Court ruled in favour of the ban this month. Now, five other parishes (Millbrook, Maker with Rame, St John, Sheviock and Antony) have submitted plans for their own, similar measures, amid concerns that second homeownership has led to a lack of affordable housing for locals.

“The introduction of the restriction shows the emerging importance of Neighbourhood Plans and the voice that these give to local communities. Cornwall has experienced an exponential increase in second home ownership over the last 20 years and the resulting increase in house prices mean that local first time buyers are often priced out of the market. The policy is a clear reaction to that problem,” comments Paul Grant, Associate Solicitor at leading law firm Coffin Mew.

“Neighbourhood Plans follow a set legal process before they are adopted, and as part of the planning policy for the local area need to be taken seriously by local planning authorities and business interests alike.
“The plan in question has clearly had a high degree of local interest and involvement, and this is precisely the sort of localism in action that the conservative government has encouraged.

“It remains to be seen to what extent enforcement action may be taken against those who are in breach of the restriction, and what action will be expected to be taken to ensure compliance. Also, who will enforcement action be taken against? From a strict legal point of view, the restriction will only bite against those in occupation, so this would affect those who have bought new properties from developers who will not be living in them as their principal residence. Perhaps the ultimate effect will be to depress house prices in those areas where such restrictions are in place.”