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The problem

One of the big housing challenges today is how do we deal with the issue of housing for local people in our countryside?

There is a huge demand for accommodation for tourists which means that when properties come up for sale the sale price is far more than local people can afford. Particularly if potential buyers are young families working in farming or hospitality.

More and more houses are being bought up by property investors for second homes and holiday lets leaving nowhere for local people to live.

What Council Housing there was has been sold off under the right to buy making the problem even worse.

But is rural tourism bad?

However rural tourism is not, in itself, a bad thing. It brings money into the area and jobs for local people – always assuming they have somewhere to live.

Surely also it is no bad thing for people living in town to be able to experience the countryside and to spend their holiday money in their own country?

Some parts of the country are hugely dependent on tourism and would be poorer without it.

A new kind of tourist accommodation?

I recently watched the BBC series My Unique B&B where Simon Parfett and his team help local people convert odd buildings and structures into viable tourist accommodation.

For example in the most recent series, they converted

  • a caravan,
  • a shepherd’s hut,
  • a combine harvester,
  • a railway carriage and
  • a bus.

All of them now earning their owners a decent income and none of them taking away ‘proper’ accommodation from local people.

A solution?

I see that some areas, Wales, Brighton and Cornwall are so fed up with the loss of local housing to tourism that they are looking to ban further short-let properties.

Michael Gove was apparently considering introducing powers to local areas to ban further second homes and holiday lets in the Levelling Up legislation. What will happen to this proposal after the changes and the department we don’t know.

However when things calm down and Government departments are able once again to work on legislation – would it not be an idea to ban the conversion of ‘proper’ homes to holiday lets, but give the green light to the sort of accommodation featured in the My Unique B&B program?

This sort of accommodation is not a threat to local people and indeed is a way for them to earn extra income. It is surely a way to bring more money into the rural economy while allowing houses and cottages to be used for their proper function of housing local people.

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