A community ravaged by second homes has volunteered to be a test bed for new rules to tackle the housing crisis.

Councillors in Nefyn have written to the Welsh Government after unanimously agreeing that plans drawn up in a government report on second homes should be implemented in the area.

The vote took place in March, but after an initial letter of acknowledgement from the Government, the council has yet to hear back on any plans to take action.

The housing crisis is particularly bad in the Nefyn area, which includes the villages of Edern and Morfa Nefyn, where almost a third of houses are owned as holiday homes, which does not include dwellings that are used as holiday lets.

This has dealt the local community a big blow, as residents are forced to move out, according to the town council chair Rhys Tudur.

He said: “You’ve got house prices sky-rocketing and being out of the reach of the local population. There is a discrepancy in prices between Nefyn and villages that are just a few miles inland.

“It wouldn’t be unusual to see a £100,000 difference between villages that are inland those that are on the coast.

“Just because it has become more of an interest to holiday home owners and speculators has driven the prices up.”

He added the problem was forcing people out of their home communities.

“It’s devastating, people are unable to live in the communities where they have been born and bred,” said Cllr Tudur.

READ MORE:

In response to the crisis, the Welsh Government commissioned a report from Swansea University academic Dr Simon Brooks.

Dr Brooks raised a number of proposals for dealing with the situation.

These included raising the equivalent of Stamp Duty on second homes as well as council tax premiums and changing planning rules to make sure that planning permission would be required to change a house into a holiday home.

The report said: “The Welsh Government should conduct a trial in a community or cluster of communities severely impacted by second homes, and where there is community support for doing so, to evaluate the feasibility and impact of introducing a new use class for second homes.

“This would make the conversion of a dwelling house into a second home subject to planning permission when the percentage of second homes in the housing stock of a specified community crosses a particular threshold.”

Cllr Tudur hoped such an approach would dampen the demand for holiday homes and keep prices for houses affordable for local people.

He said: “It would control the prices, there wouldn’t be such big hikes in prices if there is a cap on second homes.”

He added he hoped to see action taken now that the Senedd election is out of the way, something First Minister, Mark Drakeford promised when he met with the town council.

Cllr Tudur said: “Nefyn Town Council has been extremely proactive in urging the government to tackle the crisis.

“We met with Mark Drakeford in November, at that time he said he recognised that it was a problem.

“He said there needed to be a number of measures put in place but he wouldn’t be able to do anything before May but he would ensure that a package of measures could be ready to be implemented after the election.

“He’s the first minister and he should stick to his word.”

The National Wales: Anti second homes protest in Morfa Nefyn addressed by Mabon ap Gwynfor MS.Anti second homes protest in Morfa Nefyn addressed by Mabon ap Gwynfor MS.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “A new Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan is one of the main priorities of our Programme for Government, published earlier this week. We will be working across government and with stakeholders in developing the plan.”

Meanwhile, councillors in Ceredigion are calling on the Welsh Government to grant greater powers to local authorities to control holiday homes.

The council has approved a Notice of Motion calling on the government to add a new clause to the Planning Act so it is compulsory to make a planning application before obtaining the right to convert a residence into a holiday home or let; adapt the policy framework to allow for maximum thresholds of holiday homes in a given area to be set; and make it compulsory for second home owners to ask for planning permission before turning a second home into a holiday or AirBnB business.

Councillors also raised wider issues including the authority’s own planning policy in the Local Development Plan, the idea of a tourism tax being explored by Welsh Government

and the need for more houses to be built.

Councillor Mark Strong, who proposed the motion, said a lack of available and affordable housing was an increasing issue in west Wales, adding “I think it’s important that the communities don’t suffer and people that work here can afford to live here.”

He added:“Thousands of people in our communities in west Wales that are now suffering the risk of not being able to buy their own home throughout their life because of the unfair competition that can come from rich people that can buy a second or third home.”

Council officers are also preparing a report about exploring a 100 per cent council tax premium for holiday homes.

On the Isle of Anglesey, the council has launched a public consultation on proposals to hike its holiday home premium from 35% to 50%.

Introduced in 2017, the 25% second and long-term empty home levy – increased to 35% in 2019 – saw Anglesey become of the first authorities to bring in the charge, with the proceeds targeted towards helping local first-time buyers onto the ladder.

But following claims that a ‘loophole’ is costing Anglesey Council as much as £1m a year, councillors on both the island and elsewhere have also urged the Welsh Government to change the law amid fears that the percentage of housing designated as second homes will only rise.

Launching the consultation, finance portfolio holder Councillor Robin Williams said that with 2,067 – or about 7% – of island properties being unoccupied for much of the year, the extra funding would help more locals buy homes, adding: “The existing premium charge on second homes has already helped us support Anglesey residents to secure their first homes and live in their local communities.

“Raising the premium would allow us to give more of our young people that extra support needed to get on the housing ladder, which is currently so difficult because of high property prices.”

Neighbouring Gwynedd Council already charges 100 per cent but Anglesey and several other authorities have so far resisted hiking the premium to the maximum permitted figure amid concerns it could encourage more second home owners to exploit a ‘loophole’ to avoid paying the premium, or often any council tax at, all by ‘flipping’ towards paying non-domestic rates.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.