Communities have more second homes

TWO north Northumberland coastal communities now have more second homes than full-time properties, the Gazette can reveal.

Figures obtained from Northumberland County Council under the Freedom of Information Act show the numbers of properties in coastal parishes that receive a 10 per cent second-home discount.

Bamburgh and Beadnell lead the way with 54 per cent of the properties in each parish subject to the second-home discount. In Bamburgh 136 of the 254 properties are second homes while in Beadnell it is 321 of a total 589.

Between the two geographically lie North Sunderland and Seahouses where a significantly lower but still substantial 21 per cent of properties receive a second-home discount.

Craster (30 per cent) and Newton by the Sea (35 per cent) also have a significant level of second-home ownership with discounts applied to around a third of properties.

Further south the proportion of properties that receive the discount drops, significantly in the case of Amble (two per cent), Longhoughton, which includes Boulmer, (3 per cent) and Warkworth (9 per cent).

The rate in Alnmouth is higher though with 70 of its 304 properties receiving the discount (23 per cent).

Coun Pat Scott, whose ward includes Bamburgh and Beadnell, said: “It has been a concern for a long time as we do want younger people to stay in the villages with their families and sometimes if you have such a high proportion of second homes, it prices them out of the market.

“That is why we have been making affordable homes a priority.

“What’s encouraging in Beadnell is that we do have some new affordable housing (at Cardinal Point) and we do have young families living there.

“The bus has to go to the village to take children to Seahouses Middle School and we have not had that for years. We need those children to make a vibrant community.”

Coun Scott also pointed out that out of the tourist season, villages can become unsustainable if second homes are left empty.

Coun John Taylor, whose Longhoughton ward also includes Craster and Newton by the Sea, is also concerned about affordable housing, particularly for young people.

“I can’t say they’re figures I’m delighted with,” he said. “The sad thing is in these coastal settlements we are finding it increasingly difficult for young people to get housing because they are priced out of the market and it’s increasingly difficult for older people to downsize.

“It’s a two-fold problem because we have the holiday homes but we don’t have enough new housing to accommodate young people.

“Affordable housing is the most important thing we are going to have to deal with on this coastal strip, as soon as possible.

“We are waiting to see the Government’s proposals for funding for housing associations and also looking at areas on the coast, especially Craster and Newton by the Sea.”