Where I live, in Keswick in the Lake District, some homes are legally allocated in planning legislation for people who live and work in the National Park. The scheme is intended to provide more affordable housing for local families and workers, who might otherwise be forced to move away due to very high property prices in the area. This policy supports a ‘vibrant local community’ which is important to keep schools and local services going to the benefit of tourists and visitors as well!
But it was recently discovered that several homes in Keswick meant for local residents are in fact being used as holiday lets.
When local councillors complained to the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), which is responsible for planning enforcement, it was revealed that there isn’t even a definitive list of properties that are intended only for local occupancy.
Typically, local occupancy houses sell for a lower price than those with no restrictions. There seem to be no consequences for those who take advantage of the scheme to buy houses cheaply and then rent them out as holiday accommodation – which has caused huge dismay in the town. And there also seems to be no mechanism for enforcement to stop others breaking the rules.
The budget for the LDNPA has been reduced significantly by Defra in recent years and the organisation is also reliant upon around £5.5M commercial income. Campaigning charities locally have expressed concerns that this is leading to over development of the Lakes. The LDNPA recently announced redundancies and reported a deficit of £1.2M due to Covid-19.