Luke Announces “First Homes not Second Homes” Manifesto for the South West

Today [Tuesday 7 December] Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, will use a speech in Parliament to call time on South West communities being hollowed out by second homes and Airbnb conversions.

Devon and Cornwall have seen a huge surge in homes being bought as second properties and holiday homes since the pandemic. This has “turbo-charged the housing crisis” the region is suffering from according to Mr Pollard.

The South West has some of the highest house prices compared to average income in the country. Mr Pollard will blame this on a limited housing stock, and the rise in existing housing being used for second homes and short-term holiday lets. He will say that too few homes are being built and many new homes are unaffordable for local people especially those in key worker roles. In Cornwall, there are many communities where more than one third of properties are being used as holiday lets and second homes; for example, St. Minver Lowlands, St. John, St. Minver Highlands and St. Merryn.

In Plymouth alone, around 8,000 households are waiting for social housing according to Shelter. 

In the Commons tomorrow Luke Pollard will launch his proposals for “First homes not second homes” that has been developed in conjunction with Cllr Jayne Kirkham who leads the Labour Group on Cornwall Council and Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, who is the Leader of the Opposition on Plymouth City Council.

The First Homes not Second Homes Manifesto calls for:

  1. New powers from government for councils to progressively raise taxes on holiday lets and unused second homes, up to a quadrupling of council tax where homes are left empty for much of the year.
  2. A licensing regime for second homes, Airbnbs and holiday lets – with a minimum of 51% of homes in any community being for local people. Councils should have the powers to raise this level to reflect local circumstances.
  3. A “Last Shop in the Village Fund” – powers for local councils to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy on holiday lets and Airbnbs, administered by local authorities, to support local shops, pharmacies, post offices, and pubs.
  4. Commitment to build affordable homes and social housing across the South West with a priority for local people
  5. Lock in the discount of new homes for future renters and buyers to ensure affordable homes are not lost after the first family moves on.

Luke Pollard MP said:

“The South West is the region most affected by second homes and holiday lets. We welcome people investing and enjoying our region, but we must ensure that local people are not priced and pushed out of their communities. That is why I am calling for the South West to be the first region to commit to a first home not second home strategy so local people don’t have to move out of their community to get a job or a home they can afford.”

Cllr Jayne Kirkham, Leader of the Labour Group on Cornwall Council said:

“In Cornwall we are seeing a collapse of the private rented sector and a dearth of affordable housing causing homelessness. It also creates a barrier to keyworkers coming to fill vital NHS, care, and other jobs cross Cornwall. Since the pandemic, and the surge in domestic tourism we have seen local families evicted across the South West to see their homes turned into second homes and Airbnbs.”

Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of the Opposition on Plymouth City Council added:

“The rise of Airbnb is impacting on well-run and properly regulated hotels and guest houses.

“Recovering from the pandemic is difficult enough in this part of the world and for the tourism sector in particular.

“Councils are powerless to stop the effects of Airbnb on the industry. We need rules, we need regulations and we need to fund the industry at this time of crisis.