Crackdown on second home ownership
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by Kay Mitchell
In England, nearly a quarter of a million people own second homes. However, those who purchase second properties in desirable areas, while only residing in them for half of the year, can have a devastating affect on the community.
Areas affected are the Isles of Scilly, South Hams in South Devon, North Cornwall and North Norfolk.
Ultimately, it is believed that these areas may suffer and schools, shops and pubs may close outside peak season.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering a crackdown on second-home owners who have been accused of turning these sough-after rural areas into ghost towns. The PM could pave the way for councils to prevent the wealthy from purchasing homes that are not their main residences.
The crackdown comes after a reduction in Capital Gains Tax on second homes which comes into effect early April. This would mean sellers paying an 18% levy rather than the current 40%. A protest by The Government’s Rural Advocate, Stuart Burgess, is taking place to stop this cut.
Proposals to be put to Mr Brown include those seeking a country residence which deprives locals of housing would have to apply to the council. Planning permission would be needed to change a house from full occupation to a second home and could be rejected.
The inquiry, by Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor, is expected to describe second-home ownership as a ‘serious concern’ requiring immediate action.
For the rural communities that are affected, this is a huge issue. This measure would allow local authorities to say that a property cannot be converted from a full-time home into a second home. In some communities, 30%, 40% or 50% of the village is dark most of the year, said Mr Taylor.
Mr Taylor, who is the MP for Truro and St Austell, said second home ownership as a ‘huge problem’ for popular villages in rural areas and the national parks in Yorkshire and the Lake District. The MP is to submit his report to Mr Brown later this year.
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