Daily Post Column
July 10th 2018

The hot weather has drawn people more than ever to our beautiful beaches. Dinas Dinlle, Llanddwyn and Porth Ceiriad are among the favourites but our whole coastline is something we treasure.

We live in a beautiful country but that beauty can often hide serious crisis.

My Plaid Cymru colleague Liz Saville-Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionydd, drew attention in the Daily Post last week to the news that land in Abersoch is now worth more per square foot than land in the City of London.

A beach hut in Abersoch sold for £160,000. Paying such an extortionate price would be beyond the reach of most local people.

Wales shares a problem with many small nations and regions. People who can afford to, buy second homes to use on weekends or for holidays in some of our loveliest communities. As a result, hundreds of houses are empty for much of the year. Young people who cannot afford the property prices are forced to move away, which has a damaging affect on the community language and culture. This is a serious problem in rural areas but is no longer confined to them.

Gwynedd, the county in Wales with the biggest percentage of Welsh speakers, has a higher proportion of holiday homes than any other county, with 5,626 and over 1,400 long-term empty homes.

This is an issue across Europe but some countries are better than others at dealing with the problem.

In Denmark, local councils can designate whether certain properties can be designated for secondary use, such as for weekends or holidays, or whether they must be occupied by a full-time resident who is registered for council tax. This means that a property that is classed as a ‘permanent’ residence must obtain permission from the local authority before a change of use to a ‘secondary’ residence can be made.

In some municipalities in Norway, the owner is required to live in a property for most of the year to ensure the viability of communities.

In Switzerland, the construction of new second homes is restricted in communes that have more than 20% of accommodation as holiday homes.

We must introduce changes to second home regulations in Wales if we want our communities to survive and thrive.

Since April this year, Gwynedd council has raised a 50% premium on second homes. This is an important first step to solving the problem.

It is in all our interests to have successful and sustainable communities. We welcome everyone who wants to make Wales their home but that means a commitment to the community in which you live.

All levels of government need to be working together to provide affordable housing, especially for young people. I support Liz Saville Roberts in her campaign to make this happen.

Ends.

Photo: Jill Evans