This report and accompanying scoping document outlines the key lines of enquiry in response to the Councillor Call for Action on the potential impact of second homes and holiday lets on the District. Subject to approval of the questions raised, Officers and contributing Members will have until July 2022 to collect data and submit evidence. Upon completion of this process, a summary report will be prepared outlining the potential next steps in responding to the CCfA.
1. The Committee can choose to either approve the report and accompanying questions to proceed with the investigation, subject to possible amendments, or choose not to approve the report, in which case the investigation will not proceed.
2. Members should consider the time required to gather a range of evidence and data, as well as the time required to prepare a summary report on this information. As a result it is suggested that the summary report be prepared for consideration at the July O&S Committee meeting.
This report and associated scoping document will gather and summarise the necessary evidence to determine any potential future actions the Council could take to address any potential impacts of second homes and holiday lets on the District.
To approve the scoping report and associated questions in appendix 1 to allow officers to commence the investigation.
To support the Committee’s actions in responding to the Councillor Call for Action on the impact of second and holiday homes.
LIST OF BACKGROUND PAPERS AS REQUIRED BY LAW
(Papers relied on to write the report, which do not contain exempt information and which are not published elsewhere)
Contact Officer, telephone number and email:
Cllr L Withington introduced the report and informed Members that she aimed for the investigation to be open to comment from all Members and officers. She added that the investigation sought to clarify the situation in North Norfolk, as existing information only provided anecdotal evidence. It was suggested that taking a holistic approach would bring together various data to create a better overall understanding on a number of interrelated issues that could help form a basis of evidence to determine the Council’s next steps. Cllr L Withington stated that it was also crucial to outline and understand the existing legislation available to manage second and holiday homes, and look at the potential of joining up schemes used elsewhere throughout the country.
Questions and Discussion
i. The DSGOS noted that an initial three month timeframe was proposed within the report to allow various officers time to gather the necessary information required, with a response expected to come to the July Committee meeting, though some information may be dependent on unreleased census data.
ii. Cllr V Holliday raised concerns of predetermination on matters relating house price increases and the availability of affordable housing, and suggested that steps would be required to ensure objectivity. Cllr J Toye stated that it was crucial to be open minded and avoid any sense of predetermination, and suggested that the investigation would be fully evidence-based. Cllr V Holliday suggested that only progressing points one and two of the four stage process at this time would be suitable to address concerns.
iii. The ADSG stated that it was important for the investigation to remain objective, though the Council was conscious of the impact on housing supply in the District, which could in part be a result of demand for second and holiday homes. It was suggested that any investigation of housing need should focus more generally on housing supply, rather than affordable or privately rented accommodation.
iv. The DSGOS noted that care had been taken to ensure that impacts were discussed as perceived issues, and that the investigation would remain objective and open to all possible information. He added that as a result the of CCfA, it would be for the Committee to determine what the next steps should be upon consideration of the data collected.
v. Cllr C Cushing stated that he welcomed the investigation as a worthy exercise to review a very important issue, but noted concerns of predetermination and suggested it was crucial that the investigation remained objective. Cllr L Withington replied that all efforts would be made to ensure that the investigation remained objective and not predetermined, taking a strictly evidence-based approach to outline the current situation in North Norfolk. She added that restricting the investigation to the first two stages would be a disservice to residents as it would limit the ability of the Committee to draw any conclusions. Cllr C Cushing stated that he was supportive of the investigation, so long as it remained open-minded and objective.
vi. Cllr V Holliday stated that she expected sufficient evidence would be provided from the first two points, and suggested that this is where the focus should be placed.
vii. Cllr P Heinrich stated any good research had to be as open-minded and as extensive as possible. He added that every second home and holiday-let was another potential property that could no longer be used as a primary residence, and whilst existing evidence was anecdotal, he was concerned that this was taking away homes from families that were desperately in need of housing.
viii. Cllr W Fredericks stated that she welcomed the investigation and supported taking an evidence-based approach that was open to involvement from all Councillors to gather evidence. It was confirmed following a question from Cllr W Fredericks that Air BNB was essentially an advertising platform for holiday lets, similar to other online booking platforms.
ix. Cllr S Penfold referred to the definition of second homes and asked whether this would include empty homes or private rental accommodation owned by landlords living within the District. Cllr J Toye stated that properly defining the term second homes would form part of the investigation, as there were many different circumstances that could be referred to as second homes. The Chairman suggested that it would be helpful to have certainty around definitions, and it was therefore important to differentiate privately rented homes used for residential needs, from other second homes that could be largely unoccupied.
x. Cllr A Brown stated that he fully endorsed the investigation and was happy to propose its approval. He added that it was important to review whether the emerging Local Plan would be based on the correct data in relation to second homes and holiday lets, and suggested that the investigation would aid this process.
xi. Cllr H Blathwayt noted that some chalet properties were being used for full-time accommodation, and suggested that the investigation could review the collection of rates from these residents.
xii. Cllr N Housden stated that he did not fully understand the objectives of the investigation, and asked whether this could be clarified. Cllr J Toye stated that the purpose of the investigation was to try to define the impact of second homes and holiday-lets, as objective data was not readily available.
xiii. The scoping report and associated questions were proposed for approval by Cllr A Brown and seconded by Cllr P Heinrich.
xiv. It was confirmed, following a question from Cllr S Penfold that the investigation would cover the whole District and not focus on a particular area. Cllr S Penfold stated that it would be helpful to see a heatmap of second home and holiday-let locations to know where they were most prevalent.
1. To approve the scoping report and associated questions in appendix 1 to allow officers to commence the investigation.