Business owner voices fury at high number of second homes
MEVAGISSEY is ranked among the top ten places in Cornwall for the number of second homes, new figures have shown.
A local business owner has said it is negatively affecting trade and development in the fishing port.
Cornwall Council said that, in November 2012, 319 out of 2,399 homes in Mevagissey were classed as second homes – equating to 13.3 per cent.
That is higher than Fowey, where 295 out of 2,489 were second homes – 11.9 per cent.
The area with the highest number of second homes was St Endellion, on the North Cornwall coast, which had 38.5 per cent (1,054 out of 2,736).
In St Austell and the surrounding area, the lowest number of second homes could be found in Bethel ward, at just 0.3 per cent.
"Turning up here a few times a year, shopping in Marks and Spencer on the way, drinking a few glasses of French wine, eating out once or twice, then going home again – who gains from that; from whole streets of empty houses? Not our community," said Matthew Facey, owner of Willow Car Park and shop in Mevagissey.
"The effect of these empty houses is that we are forced to build on geologically unstable clifftops, in Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty and green fields outside the village.
"If we don't, where will our children or future fishermen live? Our volunteer fire service? Where will our volunteer coastguards live? Where will our volunteer lifeboat crews live?"
But Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, said second homes are not a "curse".
"People have to realise we live in a free market economy where people are allowed to buy where they want," he said.
"We tend to classify all second homes as a curse, but if someone's got a very small cottage that their family can't use, and they rent it out for anything up to 35 or more weeks of the year, it could bring in a £15,000 to £20,000 spend in the local economy.
"But others could just be rented out four weeks of the year and empty the rest of the time.
"The third type of second home is rented out quite a bit but it's the owner's commitment to move to Mevagissey in the near future, for example if they are planning to retire there.
"So not all second homes are evil, but maybe there should be more incentives to get people to rent them out."