Second homes, holiday lets and the availability of affordable property for rural residents are in the spotlight in Wales and Scotland.
Scottish Government moves to control the rapid expansion of short-term Airbnb-style lets have sparked a warning about unintended consequences in rural areas from Scottish Land and Estates (SLE).
While in North Wales, Elwyn Edwards, chairman of Snowdonia National Park’s planning committee, has called for those seeking to turn a property into a second home or holiday let to acquire planning permission beforehand.
With Mr Edwards claiming 40 per cent of properties sold in Gwynedd during the Covid-19 pandemic were second homes, it has once again raised the issue of house price affordability in rural areas, with lower paid workers often priced out of the housing market.
Back in August of this year, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) wrote to Welsh Government calling for the establishment of a committee which assessed the impact of second homes on rural areas.
FUW president Glyn Roberts said it was vital people in rural areas ’can continue to live and work in the communities of their forefathers’, adding the impact of inflated house prices on those looking to retire from farming was particularly acute.
In Scotland, SLE fears legislative proposals to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets could add a layer of bureaucracy which would hamper the agri-tourism sector, already blighted by the pandemic.
According to a recent survey, Airbnb listings in Scotland have trebled from 10,500 in 2016 to 32,000 in 2019.
Although many listings are in city centres, Skye is a rural hot-spot, with occupation of short-term lets over the holiday season estimated at 5.4 times the local population.
Gavin Mowat, policy adviser at SLE, said: “We are concerned these proposals do not target the problem areas and instead will be applied nationwide, even in areas where short-term lets are essential for the local economy and provide much-needed tourism accommodation.
“A number of rural businesses take on seasonal and short-term workers for roles which may only last a short number of weeks or months. Providing accommodation is key to filling these roles, but if these new regulations are to be introduced then that could be put at risk."