Over the past three years, families and individuals have brought 183 of Gwynedd's empty homes back into use, through grants as a result of the 50% premium on second homes totalling nearly £3.5 million in financial investment.
Plaid Cymru Gwynedd's deputy leader, Councillor Dafydd Meurig, said: "Local people are aware that we are facing a crisis in the housing market, here in Gwynedd, as are many other counties in Wales.
“The housing market has careered out of control over the past year resulting in a rise in house prices. Houses are being bought as soon as they are placed on the market, often bought with cash. It is clear that a large number are being bought as second homes, places for people to escape from urban areas and visit occasionally during the year.
“It is also important that we ensure that empty homes within the county are brought back into use by young people and families. There are currently 1,130 long term empty properties in Gwynedd whilst the local housing need in Gwynedd is immense - 2700 people remain on the Council's social housing list
“These factors together prevent young people from getting on to the property ladder or are able to rent quality affordable homes. The most important thing for us, as Plaid Cymru Gwynedd politicians, is to support a local person to find his / her comfortable and suitable home.”
Elliw Geraint Hughes, 23 and Cai Llywelyn Gruffydd, 25 from Arfon (main photo, above), are one example of a local couple who have just ventured on to the property ladder.
Elliw, who works as an Occupational Therapist for Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and grew up in Deiniolen, said: “We are very excited to have bought our first home together before Christmas. The house we’ve bought in the Twthill area of Caernarfon was an empty property.
“We have been looking for a house for two years and we decided that a house that needed work would suit us best. We would be able to work on it and invest in it over time.
“Given Gwynedd Council’s recent discussion, we will be sure to investigate any grant or loan support available to us as we start working on our first home. Every penny of support will help us, as we establish ourselves in Caernarfon and continue to live and work in the county where we both grew up.”
Plaid-led Gwynedd recently announced its ambitious £77 million housing action plan, where there is a clear focus on providing the people of Gwynedd with much needed quality homes. At least £22.9 million of that budget comes from the second homes and empty properties premium.
A detailed report released in December by the planning department found that 8% of the housing stock in Gwynedd is now second homes, with 60% of local people in Gwynedd being priced out of the housing market.
Councillor Dafydd Meurig (pictured below) said: “The confirmation that Gwynedd Council is willing to act in the best interest of Gwynedd's residents is a strong one. One of our core principles as a party is to ensure social equality, so our focus is dedicated to housing the people of Gwynedd, whether they want to buy or rent a home.
Gwynedd Council, led by Plaid Cymru, introduced a 50% premium on council tax for second homes back in April 2018.
In December last year, Plaid Cymru Gwynedd asked council officials to consult on increasing the second home premium from 50% to 100%. The cabinet discussed the consultation and made a recommendation to full council at the beginning of March to raise the premium from 50% to 100%. Full council passed the recommendation.
The premium will be effective from 1 of April 2021.