Rachael Maskell MP with Whitby residents
Rachael Maskell MP with Whitby residents

Today, Rachael Maskell York Central MP & Holiday Let campaigner met with the local campaigners at epicentre of the holiday-let housing crisis in Whitby.

An estimated, 28% of homes in Whitby are holiday lets, and it was recently reported that there are now 96 applications for each social housing property.  Many local villages are now mainly operating seasonal tourist hubs, with the nearby village of Runswick Bay estimated to have as few as 10 homes are still in permanent use by locals, despite the village having a summertime population of over 2,300 people.  Brian Loader, Chair of Whitby CLP, told the MP how the situation has become so bad that community services are under threat, and that unless action is taken to bring homes back into use, some primary schools and other services may soon have to close.

Speaking at the event, Rachael Maskell said:

“Since I first raised the issue in Parliament, it is estimated that over 17,000 homes in England have turned into short-term holiday lets, creating ghost communities where local services and daily life have been lost, and for much of the year the lights have gone out. 

“As we saw in the recent referendum, 93% of residents in Whitby have said they want new measures to reduce the number of homes being used for holiday accommodation, but despite the size and pace of the challenge, the Government are still faffing around and aren’t really listening.

“The Government has said they will introduce new Short-Term Holiday Let laws this year, but as things stand the proposals don’t include measures that will bring lost homes back into use by local families.  They have effectively admitted defeat before they have even started, and given up on hundreds of communities across our coast and countryside.

“The 100% rise in Council Tax sounds good, but it’s already been tried in Wales, and the Welsh Government have now upped it to 300%.  Communities in England need to know why our Government is not being bolder and is introducing measures that have already failed to make a difference elsewhere.”

Brian Loader, Chair of Whitby CLP said:

“A public consultation has just commenced to amalgamate the two secondary schools in the town due to more than 40% surplus places. Although new housing estates are being built at the edges of the town, the developments can’t keep pace with the loss of residential accommodation in the historic core where the historic yards have become holiday business empires and families can’t afford to buy or rent.”

Councillor Neil Swannick representative for Whitby Streonshalh said:

“Whitby is a beautiful place, situated as it is between the Yorkshire Moors and the North Sea, but residents are being driven out of the town by London-style house prices, homes to rent being turned into more profitable holiday lets, and party houses causing noise nuisance and parking chaos. Government needs to take urgent action to stop residential dwellings currently being converted to holiday lets without the need for planning consent.”


On the Legislation

In early December 2022, following the second reading of Rachael’s Short Term Holiday Let’s Presentation Bill, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities proposed the introduction of a light-touch, holiday lets registration scheme and the potential introduction of a new planning use classification. This will now be subject of another consultation process which is due to conclude in the summer.

Although Michael Gove’s intervention represents some progress and will be subject to further consultation, as things stand the Government’s proposals on Short-Term Holiday Lets still look to fall way short of giving Local Authorities the powers they need to control the expansion of holiday-lets, even in areas where there is significant pressure on local housing supply. It is also, so far, unclear whether they would enable Local Authorities to meaningfully address issues around community life and anti-social behaviour, which are a major concern in some parts of York. It is worth noting, that the proposals are significantly weaker than the powers that have already been granted to Local Authorities in Scotland.

It is estimated that over 17,000 homes have been lost across England since Rachael first raised the issue in the House back in June 2021, a further 5,000 are expected to be lost before the Government finishes this new consultation. In the midst of our worsening housing crisis, Rachael will continue to push the Government to get a grip of the situation and ensure everything possible is being done to ensure housing is available to the people who need it.

Number of Homes Lost

Work carried out by Generation Rent in December 2022, estimated that 29 are being lost to holiday lets everyday the UK.

The full data is available here. Second homes data via council taxbase local authority level data is updated in September each year and holiday let data is correct as of 31 July. Dwelling stock data is available here.

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