South Devon is in the midst of a housing crisis, with a vast number of second homes and holiday lets leading to a lack of affordable options for local people. Additional housing is required, but we must ensure that development is appropriate, in the right location and takes communities' needs and wishes into account.
This is a complex issue but there are solutions, and I am continuing to work with colleagues to ensure the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill delivers for residents of Totnes and South Devon.
To date I have:
- Written many articles and spoken many times about the need to find a balance between holiday rentals and affordable housing for local people, and engaged with colleagues in Westminster to offer solutions.
- Met with local holiday lettings businesses ahead of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, to discuss ways to deal with the abundance of new short-term lets without damaging their business.
- Welcomed the Government's announcement of their intention to establish a registration scheme for short-term lets.
- Spoken to local groups such as the South Hams Society about the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and worked with colleagues to lobby, amend and improve it.
- Welcomed the Government's review into short-term tourist lets including Airbnbs.
- Worked with Cllr Judy Pearce, leader of South Hams District Council, to push for the closure of the loophole which allowed second homeowners to avoid paying council tax by registering for business rates. In March 2021 it was announced that legislation would be brought forward to stop second homeowners illegitimately reducing their tax liabilities.
- Supported the development of neighbourhood plans to allow local people to have their say on developments in their area.
- Held a zoom meeting with local residents to discuss issues including the insecurity and unaffordability of rental options, as well as possible solutions.
- Written an article in The Times on the housing crisis to raise awareness of the issue and multiple articles in local newspapers.
- Supported the Planning (Enforcement) Bill which aims to hold rogue developers to account.
- Spoken in a debate on affordable housing and planning reform.