Home from Home? – St. Ives Second Home Ban Found Lawful
With its idyllic landscape, abundance of sandy beaches and countless picturesque seaside villages, Cornwall has always been a quintessentially British holiday destination. For many, the lure of a longer term seafront escape has been too much to bear; Cornwall has one of the highest rates of second/holiday home ownership in the country (as high as 50% in some villages).
For the permanent residents of St. Ives, this has been a long-standing and increasingly problematic issue. With one out of every four properties being a second or holiday homes/lets, local residents are finding themselves continually being priced out of the local housing market.
In response, the community worked to produce a Neighbourhood Plan in order to gain more control over planning matters in the area, including a ban on granting planning permission on new residential dwellings if they are not reserved for full-time residents. The Neighbourhood Plan received overwhelming support, with over 80% of the 3,696 votes being in favour during the May 2016 referendum. An elated Town Mayor, Linda Taylor, said of the result: “St Ives should be incredibly proud”.
The ban has not been without controversy. Architect firm RLT Built Environment Limited lodged a claim for a judicial review of Cornwall Council’s decision to support the publication of the Neighbourhood Plan, arguing that the second home policy did not comply with the SEA Directive and Regulations and was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, in a judgment handed down earlier this month, Lord Justice Hickinbottom dismissed the claim for judicial review on all grounds, stating “I do not consider any of the grounds strong – and I have expressly found some to be unarguable”.
Subject to appeal, St. Ives Town Council and Cornwall Council are able progress with adopting the Neighbourhood Plan. The town is being seen as something of a pioneer for the ban on second/holiday homes, as a number of other Cornwall towns and villages are beginning to follow suit. Caswand, which itself has up to 33% of its homes occupied on a part-time basis, is currently producing a Neighbourhood Plan in conjunction with four other neighbouring parishes on the Rame peninsula.
“Sometimes people put mackerel through the letterboxes because they know there isn’t going to be anyone in the house for months”
A victory for localism, but will the ban work in practice?