Northumberland council chiefs spell out policy on limiting second homes and holiday lets

The council has provided extra clarity on its policy aimed at limiting second and holiday homes in Northumberland communities.

By Ben O'Connell
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 1:23 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay
Picture c/o Pixabay

The authority’s local plan, whose public examination continued this week, includes a specific policy applying to ‘any parishes with 20% or more household spaces with no usual residents’ based on the latest Census data.

It says new market homes in these areas should, now and in the future, be occupied only as a principal residence.

As part of the proposed modifications, the council has added a definition of principal residence to the plan’s glossary – a dwelling that is occupied as the sole or main home of the occupants and where the occupants spend the majority of their time when not working away from home.

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At a hearing session on February 27, one of the chief planners, Steve Robson, said the rationale behind the policy is to help deliver on some of the goals of the plan, such as sustainable communities and supporting local services.

Joanne Harding, of the Home Builders Federation, asked if the council had considered the knock-on effect of a fall of house prices, which may affect new development coming forward.

“In some ways, a reduction in house prices would help meet the needs of the population,” Mr Robson said. “I don’t think it’s that significant and it’s a balancing act.”

Asked why a 20% threshold was chosen, Mr Robson said it was based on what had been introduced in other parts of the country.

There were also concerns expressed that viability could be hit by the requirement for at least 10% affordable housing on all major developments.

The council’s policy proposes a sliding scale with schemes in low-value areas expected to provide 10% affordable housing up to 30% in the highest value areas.

James Hall, of Barton Willmore, representing Bellway Homes, said: “Given there aren’t many allocations, the council needs to make sure that these sites are available to come forward.”

Planning officer Andrea King said 10% restrictions are set by the national rules and guidance ‘so those are already in place’.

Ms Harding encouraged the council to look at a 5% threshold in certain areas, which she said the national framework does allow.