Second homes could be banned in Brighton

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As many as 3,000 properties in Brighton could be in use only as short-term holiday lets - Shotshop GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
As many as 3,000 properties in Brighton could be in use only as short-term holiday lets - Shotshop GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Brighton could become the first city in England to crack down on second homes after councillors ordered plans for a ban to be drawn up.

New rules which would ban any new-build properties from becoming second homes or holiday lets will be drafted after a vote by councillors.

The proposals would only apply to certain hotspots in Brighton & Hove where the city council says the housing crisis is most acute.

If the Green-led council goes ahead with the move, it would become by far the biggest settlement to impose such a ban.

The policy of applying covenants to new build homes requiring them to remain primary residences was pioneered by the fishing town of St Ives, Cornwall in 2016 which followed a referendum.

Towns and villages across the South West have since followed suit and last week residents of the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby voted in favour of bringing in a ban.

The referendum was non-binding but aimed at putting pressure on local government to act.

Residents and business owners there and in the South West have complained that not only do second homes force up prices and squeeze out locals, but they also make it impossible to bring in workers to sustain the tourism industry.

However, it is unclear how effective second home bans have been where they have been implemented. Critics say they create a two-tier housing market, driving up the price of non-new builds and pushing the problem elsewhere.

A 2019 study by the London School of Economics found that the St Ives ban may have backfired by causing construction companies to focus their work elsewhere.

Popular seaside resort

Brighton, in East Sussex, is a highly popular seaside resort, including for stag and hen dos, in part thanks to its proximity and strong transport links to London.

A report delivered to the city council before its vote found that as many as 3,000 properties in the city could be in use only as short-term holiday lets.

Marianna Ebel, a Green Party councillor who sits on the planning committee told the BBC, who first reported the story: “We have to do something. We have a housing crisis and thousands of residents are on our housing waiting list.”

Ms Ebel also linked the preponderance of short-term lets with anti-social behaviour.

“When flats and houses are used for short-term holiday lets and second homes, it not only reduces the number of housing units but causes massive problems for neighbours such as anti-social behaviour.”

Brighton & Hove City Council did not respond to a request for comment.

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