Commons hears of Government’s ‘cruel’ dismissal of second homes problem
Local Lib Dem MP, Dan Rogerson, slammed Ministers in the Commons today (Monday), saying they had ‘cruelly dismissed’ rural communities’ concerns about second homes.
Mr Rogerson has campaign against the spread of second homes since he was elected in 2005. He presented a Bill to Parliament today, which would allow councils to control the number of second homes in their area. Speaking in the Commons, he said second homes had inflated house prices, and put local services like village schools and post offices at risk. Public sector workers, like retained fire fighters, had been forced to move away from their families.
“The problem is continuing to get worse,” he said in a ten minute speech to MPs. Experts in estate agencies agreed that second homes had caused significant ‘uplift’ in the price of homes which might otherwise have been affordable to local people. Mr Rogerson cited figures reported in the Western Morning News, which suggest 43% of ‘prime estate’ bought in Cornwall in the last 4 years had been used as second homes.
In a stinging attack on the Government, he read from Ministers’ response to the Living Working Countryside report by Truro and St Austell MP, Matthew Taylor. It said: “the government is not convinced that the ‘problem’, such as it is, could be tackled through the planning system.” Yet the Government’s own Affordable Rural Housing Commission had recommended that the problem be dealt with planning ‘use classes’, which Mr Rogerson’s Bill would bring in.
Commenting after he left the House of Commons chamber, Dan Rogerson said:
“The Government has sat idly by while this problem gets worse and more and more of our communities are left increasingly deserted for much of the year.
“Indeed their response to the Living Working Countryside report suggests they don’t even think second homes are a real problem. They should come and visit some of our villages.
“My Bill would start to tackle this issue, in just the way that the Government’s own commissions have recommended.
“Yet Ministers will not commit to take it up. When I put amendments down to planning legislation in 2008, which would have allowed areas like North Cornwall to have special ‘use classes’ for second homes, the Conservative Party wouldn’t even vote and Ministers trooped through the lobby to oppose me.
“Having grown up in our area, I know what a serious problem this is. It’s one of the number one issues people raise with me when I meet communities all round the constituency.
“What a scandal that both Labour and the Conservatives refuse to act.”