The LG&H Committee has taken further evidence, this round from local councillors via video link:
The following comments seem to be aimed at second homes, rather than furnished holiday lets.
General Impact of Second Homes
John Griffiths MS asked about the general impact of second homes on communities. Jano Williams said there are several cultural, social, and economic impacts caused by second homes and the fact houses in the centre of the town are too expensive for local people to buy. She added most young and local people are “moving out” to other areas because they cannot afford to buy in their local area. She highlighted it is a complex problem in Newport because the tourism sector is one of the main businesses in the area.
Jeff Smith stated people in Aberystwyth find it difficult to buy or even rent somewhere to live as house prices have increased dramatically. As a result, several communities in Ceredigion have seen a significant decline in the number of Welsh speakers. Rhys Tudor stated the impact of second homes is damaging communities and 30% of current Nefyn housing stock is second homes. He noted there has been a decline in the number of children attending Welsh language primary schools and said this is a "huge hit" to the sustainability of the language.
Welsh Government Response
John Griffiths MS asked about the Welsh Government’s response to the issues raised. Dyfrig Siencyn referred to the Dwyfor pilot scheme and said the steps taken by Welsh Government are historic as it is the first time government has made “any kind of effort” to intervene in the summer and second home market. He described the pilot as a “young child learning to crawl” and said there is scope for the Welsh Government to refine its ideas in terms of what is included in the pilot programme. He added some elements of the pilot are relatively “soft interventions” but recognised this is a complex area and work must be done thoroughly.
Jeff Smith expressed the need to look at the problem at a micro level in the research and use Article Four to reach a point where a County Council can refuse applications to control and manage the second home market in their areas. Rhys Tudor said the wide range of proposals put forward in the consultation would have a “genuine impact” on communities if they were to be implemented. He echoed the frustrations of other witnesses about the speed of the process.
Jano Williams highlighted every community has its own problems and stressed that in Newport, addressing the holiday home issue will not solve the housing shortage in the area. She expressed town councils should be given more powers and influence to prevent the "profit motive" of developers.
Definition of Second Homes
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS asked if witnesses believe the definition of a second home or short-term holiday let is sufficiently clear. Dyfrig Siencyn expressed the importance of having a definition and recognised the complexity around the issue. He explained the different categories for second homes and holiday homes.
Rhys Tudur noted it is vital to set out clear definitions and stated it is not currently clear the differences between them. He added there is some definition in terms of taxation but not in terms of clear use classes. He stated what has been proposed in the consultation has been satisfactory in terms of the clarity the definitions provide. However, he stated they do not go far enough in terms of setting out the criteria for a second home. Witnesses highlighted a clear definition is vital to regulate second homes and set out a threshold in different areas.
Jano Williams stated there is not a "one size fits all" solution to the issue. She raised concerns that new buildings are not in the vernacular of the town and are "destroying beautiful" communities. She expressed the need for local communities and town councils to have a say and increased power to influence decisions made in their local area.