Council gets £1.8million to tackle problem of second homes

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SOUTH Hams District Council is to receive a £1.8million boost from the Government for communities affected by second home ownership.

The funding comes after South Hams councillors and Sarah Wollaston MP worked together to lobby Parliament.

In the 2016 budget, the Government announced it would provide funding for communities affected by second home ownership, however by November, having heard no further update, members requested the support of their MP.

The council said it provided a very robust case requesting a good proportion of the identified funds and Dr Wollaston tabled a Parliamentary question on the matter.

Now the Government has identified a £60million nationwide Community Housing Fund to support community-led housing developments in areas where the impact of second homes is particularly acute.

Cllr Simon Wright, portfolio holder for support services, said: “We have been pressing for a share of the fund from central Government for some time now due to the high numbers of second homes in the South Hams, working closely with Dr Wollaston on earmarking a proportion of the fund for the district.

“We are therefore thrilled with this outcome and the support it will bring to local communities across the district. The fund will really help boost affordable housing provision for communities affected by second home ownership, this really is brilliant news for the South Hams.”

Dr Wollaston added: “I am really encouraged that South Hams has been successful and will be receiving £1.8 million from the Community Housing Fund. The issue of affordable housing is clearly a priority for residents in the South Hams.”

Often, second homes stand empty for a large proportion of the time which can affect communities, the demographics of an area and distort local housing markets.

The South Hams has just under 4,000 second homes which makes up over 9 per cent of the total households, therefore the impact of second homes is acute in the area.

Cllr Hilary Bastone, portfolio holder for Customer First, said: “We are very pleased with this outcome. The impact of second homes on rural communities has been acknowledged and we are delighted that the fund has been set up to help communities affected by second home ownership.

“The South Hams has some of the highest levels of second home ownership in the country and this is reflected in our allocation of funds. The amount is second to that allotted for the whole of Cornwall, which has well over six times our population.

“Local residents find it increasingly difficult to get on the housing ladder due to a number of issues, which can include a high proportion of second homes in the area. This money will help us to support local, community-led housing initiatives.”

Once full details of the scheme have been released, the council will be in a position to plan for the next steps.

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