A COMPLULSORY registration scheme for holiday homes will be introduced as part of a Welsh Government plan to address the controversial issue of second homes. 

Climate change minister Julie James will also propose trialing and evaluating new housing policies in a pilot area which will be selected over the summer. 

The minister will outline the Government’s plans on addressing second homes in the Senedd this afternoon. 

It says it is proposing a “three-pronged approach” focusing on support to address the affordability and availability of housing, regulation including planning rules and a registration scheme as well as how national and local taxation can be used. 

The Government will draw up a statutory registration scheme for all tourist accommodation, and consult on possible changes to local taxes which would help local authorities manage the impact of second homes and self-catered accommodation 

It will also draft a Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan for consultation in the autumn. 

The issue of second homes has been high on the political agenda before and since the Senedd elections in May and first minister Mark Drakeford said addressing the issue was one of his top priorities. 

However the plans which will be presented to the Senedd could fall short of the steps opposition politicians and campaigners have called for. 

Swansea University’s Dr Simon Brooks, who compiled a report on the impact of holiday homes for the government, recommended changes to planning laws to allow councils greater discretion on allowing houses to be changed into holiday homes, as well as changes to the tax system. 

That could have meant home owners would have to ask councils for planning permission to change the use of a home from a primary residence and also allow councils to charge higher council tax rates on second homes.  

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Local authorities have the power to charge 100 per cent council tax on second homes but some have called for charges to be as high as 500 per cent. 

James, who has responsibility for housing, said the government recognises the issues related to second home ownership. 

She said: “A high concentration of second homes or holiday lets can have a very detrimental impact on small communities, and in some areas could compromise the Welsh language being spoken at a community level. 

 “We have already taken strides on some of these issues - last year we became the only nation in the UK to give local authorities the power to introduce a 100% council tax levy on second homes. But the urgency and gravity of this situation calls for further intervention, which means real and ambitious actions are delivered at pace, to inject fairness back into the housing system.” 

She said the government is taking forward the recommendations made by Dr Brooks: “Our new three-pronged approach will kick-start a summer of action which will determine how we tackle this issue now and into the future. I am calling on all political parties across the Senedd to get involved in this, as we look to empower our communities to exercise their right to live in good quality homes, wherever they are in Wales.” 

Local councillors in the Llyn peninsula village of Nefyn wrote to the government, before the election, to volunteer that it be a test bed for policies proposed by Dr Brooks.

The minister visited a development in the popular holiday village of Solva, Pembrokeshire, where a council tax levy has been used to build 18 new affordable homes. 

Though the issue of holiday homes has been seen as crucial in the escalating cost of housing in some rural areas housing campaigners say it is only one of the factors of a Welsh housing crisis and say the the issue of housing supply must be addressed. 

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