As we have highlighted on our Housing page, Whitby and District has a significant problem with housing in terms of the quantity of holiday lets and second homes in our area taking away housing stock from residential, as well as the lack of truly affordable housing for local people. Subsequent to our Parish Poll and follow-on discussions we have developed a 10-point plan to improve the housing situation.
Local Council to Action
- Control holiday / second home numbers, allow efficient use of existing housing stock.
- Affordable housing schemes
- Mandate Social Housing provision
Local Council to Lobby Government for
- Reform Planning Law
- Charge Council Tax on all Planning Use Class C
- Statutory licensing scheme for ALL short term lets
- Standardise tax and safety requirements for short and long term lets
- Land Ownership Reforms
- Finance for Housing Controls and Enforcement
- Define Whitby’s status as Rural/Include in NYMNP
What do you think of these outline proposals? Please let us know, via the Contact Us form.
1. Control Holiday / Second Home Numbers, Allow Efficient Use of Existing Housing Stock
1.1 Local authority to clearly identify by Parish the number of permanent residences, second homes and holiday homes (including “restricted” and “park” homes).
1.2 Where the number of second homes and holiday lets in any Parish is ≥ 20% at the last census the focus shall be on providing for local housing needs through the provision of affordable housing and housing to support local employment opportunities and key services in Parishes affected
- restrict new developments/converted buildings to primary residents, based on whether the proposal will help to meet community needs.
- more efficient use of existing housing stock (includes a mix of second homes, foreign-owned investment homes, and other classes of empty homes). Various tax reforms could be used to disincentivise the consumption of housing space for second homes. Canada, New Zealand) have brought in policies to reduce housing demand from foreign investors. Whilst local authorities do have some powers to bring empty homes back into use, additional policies required for increasing their capacity, including enhancing funding and legal powers to take control of empty homes and repurpose them for social housing. See also this link where the Highland Council launches new scheme to halt second home Airbnbs.
- If a reduction in the size of the Private Rented Sector seen (particularly coastal regions), this shall be supported with policies that expand the supply of social housing.
1.3 Whitby and Sandsend require further protection to ensure sufficient housing is available for locals and key workers due to limited development land outside the National Park being available to include:
- Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to build upon and provide more detailed guidance about policies in the Local Plan for primary and second homes in these locations. Whilst legally they do not form part of the Local Plan itself and they are not subject to independent examination, they are material considerations in determining planning applications.
- Article 4 direction to require planning permission for the demolition of any residences and restrictions on businesses to limit non-managed holiday lets in residential areas, to protect local amenity and the well-being of the area.
2. Affordable Housing Schemes
2.1 Definition of affordable homes: A ‘one size fits all’ approach of the NPPF definition of affordability does not reflect the multi-dimensional factors that influence the costs of housing in all areas for local people. In order to address the inaccessibility of both genuinely affordable rental properties and the growing gap between income levels and house prices, a parish approach needs to reflect a whole range of factors influencing affordability and housing market demand including sales under the “First Homes” scheme.
2.2 For Whitby we need Discounted Market Sales housing for the sale of affordable homes, sold at a discount of at least 40 – 50% below local market value. Eligibility needs to be determined with regard to local incomes, local house prices and local occupancy requirements. Provisions should be in place to ensure housing remains at a discount for primary housing in perpetuity for all future eligible households.
2.3 The Right to Buy scheme should not be reintroduced without clear requirements to ensure these homes are subject to an “in perpetuity discounted rate” for primary residences only.
2.4 The Government needs to ensure mortgages are available for all types of affordable housing offered for sale, including discounted in perpetuity.
3. Mandate Social Housing Provision
3.1 To meet local housing needs, the local council (SBC/NYU) needs to ensure social housing developers develop land available where ≥ 20% second and holiday homes are located within a Parish at the last census.
3.2 We would encourage the Council to provide social housing rather than invest in/purchase business premises (e.g. Travel Lodge), either by purchasing existing housing stock or providing new housing to meet local needs such as housing for the elderly to free up more family-sized housing. The financing of Council Housing was a very simple and effective way of financing council houses, with a local authority borrowing money from the state, paying it back at favourable rates, and when the loans paid off the rents from them provided the LA with a lasting income generating asset. The present public/private partnerships that deliver social housing are far more complex, more costly and deliver fewer affordable homes.
3.3 We would also encourage our local council to develop vacant buildings for social housing.
3.4 All publicly owned land (council, NHS etc.) should be used to provide social housing only (e.g. in Whitby – hospital site/Larpool care home), but not Green Spaces in areas where this does not meet National standards.
3.5 Update the Social Housing prioritisation rule to ensure any Parish with 20% or more second/holiday homes has a definition for ‘local connection’ criteria – secured through a planning condition (eg see NYMNP). Whitby and District residents/key workers would then get first choice of any rental. The North Yorkshire Home Choice system states “We advertise local authority and registered social landlord properties for rent in Craven, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Hambleton, Scarborough, and Selby. York now has a separate system”. We recommend this is reviewed in line with NYMNP allocation principles to ensure the needs of local people are met first with a cascading scheme to adjacent villages.
3.6 The “three refusals and you are off the list” policy for Social Housing should be reviewed, if residents reject houses in a different town where childcare/public transport are not accessible, this must be taken into account.
3.7 Develop a private sector leasing scheme such as that implemented by Norwich City Council
4. Reform Planning Law
- in C3 a separate class each for a primary home (C3a), second home(C3b), and short-term holiday let within a dwelling (1-bed / 2-bed)(C3c).
- extend C1 Hotels class to include C1a Hotels, boarding and guest houses (managed accommodation), C1b – non-managed short term holiday lets including on-line platforms such as AirBnB, which require greater H&S and ASB controls (or include under C4 Houses of Multiple Occupation).
5. Charge Council Tax on all Planning Use Class"C"
6. Statutory Licensing Scheme for all Short Term Lets
Make it a requirement to obtain a license to help raise standards across the tourism industry similar to licensing for the Private Rented Sector, that allows Councils to deny licenses to ‘short term lets’ in some areas, ensuring homes continue to be available for local families. This scheme must ensure licensed properties are safe, meet basic standards and are managed in a satisfactory way. To protect local residents from ASB. (Note Scotland and Wales scheme).
This is now in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill being discussed in the UK Parliament Dec 2022.
7. Standardise Tax and Safety Requirements for Short/Long Term Lets
The Private Rented Sector be treated equally in terms of taxation and legislation to the Short-term and Holiday-Let sector to prevent Landlords in the Coastal and National Park communities switching to the short term let sector. SBC maps already show a total hollowing out of Whitby town centre and villages such as Sandsend which are now mainly holiday lets. A robust private rented sector is vital part of the country’s housing mix and while home ownership is the aspiration of many, people rent for a variety of reasons, some want the flexibility to move from work, with others not in a financial position to buy their own home. These people still need and deserve somewhere to live.
The Bevan Foundation (Wales) report illustrates how lucrative holiday lets can be by the returns they can expect compared with long-term lets offered by private landlords. In all Welsh local authorities except Torfaen, it takes Airbnb hosts less than 10 weeks (4.8 weeks in Anglesey) to earn the same annual income as landlords letting properties at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates.
7.1 The National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) has recommended the following amendments to the Renters Reform Bill:
- End the anti-landlord rhetoric and back the majority of landlords providing good quality homes to rent
- Address issues that will arise in the student market as a result of plans to introduce indefinite tenancies
- Come up with firm principles as to how councils and police can support landlords to tackle anti-social tenants quickly and effectively
- Reform the courts BEFORE Section 21 powers are removed to tackle lengthy waits for possession
- Abolish local licensing once the new property portal is introduced
7.2 We ask that a respected organisation such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) recommendations be taken into account, and that The JRF states that over the last twenty years for ever four homes built in England, the equivalent of three have gone into the private rented sector (PRS), resulting in a country of multiple home ownership and private renters. JRF are now calling for fundamental reforms to the private rented sector (PRS) to open the market to those locked out of social housing and home ownership.
- Setting a strategy for reducing the size of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) by rebalancing the position of first-time buyers and landlords in the mortgage market and discouraging property speculation. This could be achieved by reviewing the regulations that govern mortgage lending to prioritise lending towards those looking to buy for the first time over landlords alongside fiscal reforms to reduce speculation on property, and supporting mortgages for discounted housing.
- Supporting any reduction in the size of the PRS with policies that expand the supply of social housing and support households into home ownership.
8. Land Ownership Reforms
8.1 New principles are required for new-builds to be compatible with national sustainability targets whilst targeting unmet social needs. Directly targeting unmet needs requires primarily delivering social housing over ordinary market housing. (see also note below)
8.2 Land ownership reforms, to ensure that the benefits of rising land values are not captured by renters is for land to be publicly-owned. There is already an international precedent to the state playing a larger role in socialising the benefits of land value uplift.
8.3 Land reform to reduce the cost of land for social housing, and steps to ensure new social housing is delivered as part of mixed communities.
8.4 Introduce varying land transaction tax locally in areas with large numbers of second homes, so local authorities can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local parishes to fund social housing.
8.5 Development contributions also do not always reflect land values, particularly when land is not developed for some years.
8.6 Close the loophole that allows developers to avoid paying affordable housing obligations or make controls stricter.
8.7 Revise regulations that govern mortgage lending to prioritise lending for first time buyers over landlords, alongside fiscal reforms to reduce speculation on property, and supporting mortgages for discounted housing.
9. Finance For Housing Controls and Enforcement
Provide targeted, ring-fenced finance so that planning departments have the resources to effectively police new rules.
10. Define Whitby's Status as Rural or Include in NYMNP
Whitby town is defined as an “urban settlement” not “rural” because its population is over 10,000 but it is one of only 6 towns in England defined as an “urban settlement situated in a sparsely-populated rural area.”
10.1 We would request the Council lobby for Whitby to be classed as rural because of it’s lack of land for development in an area where there are no “brown field” sites, it is surrounded by the National Park and the sea. This will also allow access to the rural funding stream and help with provision of affordable housing. This must be considered under any Local Plan, and Whitby must not be included in a large town’s population figures such as Scarborough, as Whitby has totally different housing requirements.
10.2 Whitby and Sandsend should be included in the National Park as this would give continuity over all sectors for the NYM National Park, including bio-security of the river and coast line. Excluding Whitby and Sandsend, communities with common geographic and demographic characteristics, and with Whitby acting as the market town/services provider for the eastern area of the NYM National Park makes no sense what so ever. This could be included in the Governments plans to boost nature recovery and safeguard England’s iconic national parks for future generations.