YP Letters: Penalising second home owners may add to Dales decline

From: Alison Nash, Grantham.
Do you suppot a council tax surcharge on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?Do you suppot a council tax surcharge on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?
Do you suppot a council tax surcharge on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales?

THE proposed council tax rise of 500 per cent on second homes by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority lacks evidence to support such a controversial and radical policy.

Before commencing this proposed pilot on an identified ‘at risk’ community, a full impact assessment is required.

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Otherwise the likelihood of unintended consequences may prevail: villages full of ‘for sale’ signs, run-down empty houses, and failing pubs and businesses.

This would lead to a consequential drop in all property values and damage communities that are struggling to survive. Age is the defining feature of most second homes, they require regular significant upkeep and are not ideal homes for first-time buyers.

As second home owners, we have visited and supported the Yorkshire Dales for the last 60 years: we have a strong family connection to the area as my great-grandfather built the property in the 1800s, and this was inherited from my mother.

Family, now two generations, and friends visit regularly. Family members have lived here for short periods. We’ve provided work for local tradesmen, from electrical upgrades to modernising and new roofs.

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First-time buyers and young families are unlikely to have disposable incomes to do similar work.

We support local amenities, and the local pub thrives on the support of second home owners who visit when holiday lets are quiet. They also support the community, volunteering in roles which might otherwise remain unfilled, and bring skill sets that are missing within the local population.

YDNP councillors are, understandably, concerned with both a falling and an ageing population. These concerns are reflected nationwide, particularly in rural areas, and not solely related to the Dales. There are alternative solutions rather than adopting a ‘social engineering’ measure penalising second home owners.

Richmondshire District Council has a ring-fenced budget of £2m for the provision of affordable housing: more family friendly homes could be built, and the YDNPA has the ability to relax its planning regulations, and encourage small businesses to move into the Dales.

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Without clear specific evidence that second homes are the sole cause of the falling population in the Dales, it cannot be right to target second home owners. It is discriminatory: it will not achieve its stated aims, but will devastate the housing market and may well speed up the decline it is trying to reverse.