All Plaid Cymru county council leaders have called on First Minister, Mark Drakeford, to take urgent action on housing solutions for local people.
County Council leaders in Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire are pressing the Labour Government to:
- amend the Local Government Finance Act so that any ordinary house is defined as a dwelling under taxation rules. Owners would then pay Council Tax and not Business Tax. It would ensure that the additional tax premium on second homes would not be lost and the money could be invested in housing local people.
- modify planning policies to create a new use class for short-term holiday lets. Having a specific use class would require planning permission therfore empowering local authorities to control the number of holiday lets in specific areas to achieve a balance of housing for local people and short-term holiday lets within communities.
- introduce a compulsory licensing scheme for short-term holiday lets, managed by the county councils themselves, to ensure that there is a balance of housing within communities and housing available for local people to buy or rent.
Gwynedd Council Leader, Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, said: “It is high time we see movement on this issue to try and influence the housing situation across Wales. Gwynedd commissioned an extensive piece of research last year and brought practical solutions to the table in relation to licensing and planning changes.
“As four coastal counties of west Wales, we are keen to work with the Government, but it is now time for the First Minister to act."
In a letter to the First Minister, the four leaders say: “The threat to the viability of Welsh communities increases considerably as the housing market intensifies and prices rise beyond the reach of local people. In these areas, of course, a great number are bought as investments for short term lets or as second homes.”
The Government received a copy of the extensive housing research document from Gwynedd which highlights the scale of the problem and offers solutions back in January. It is now essential that action is taken to influence the housing situation in the rural and coastal communities of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthen.
Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn said: “We are pleased that the report commissioned by the Welsh Government on housing is broadly in line with Gwynedd Council's report, and we look forward to a discussion with the Government to go through the finer details.
"I believe the Government is keen to find a solution to the problem of second homes in Wales. Plaid Cymru councils with knowledge of what's happening at grassroot level are keen to share our experience of this sector and work on solutions that will affect one element of the housing problem affecting people across the whole of Wales.”