Planning laws could restrict second home ownership
The Government is considering measures that will deter second-home owners from buying properties in desirable rural locations.
Around 240,000 people own a second home in England and the detrimental effect of this on rural communities has long been recognised.
In some areas property prices have risen beyond the reach of local people and village schools shops and pubs are threatened with closure because properties remain empty for large parts of the year.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has now commissioned an enquiry that will look at whether local councils should have the power to prevent homes being sold to buyers who will not use them as their main residence.
In such cases, planning permission would be needed to convert a property from a full-time home into a second home.
Any scheme recommended by the enquiry is likely to be piloted in the areas facing serious difficulties from second-home ownership, such as the Isles of Scilly, South Hams in South Devon, North Cornwall and North Norfolk.
In April of this year, Capital Gains Tax liability on the sale of second homes will be reduced to 18%, a move that is being strongly opposed by the Government’s Rural Advocate, Stuart Burgess.