Cornwall councillor Andrew Wallis calls for 'balance' to second homes
A Cornwall councillor is leading calls to make planning permission compulsory before a house is turned into a second home.
Andrew Wallis made the plea after obtaining research showing the county's second home hotspots and those where there are almost none.
Next week the Porthleven independent councillor will put a motion before a full meeting of Cornwall Council which urges MPs to support national legislation on the matter.
He said that second homes could have a positive economic effect on a community, but without the ability to control their numbers local authorities were powerless to plan for the future. He added: "I'm not against second homes, but there has to be balance.
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"If you have a Chinese take-away that closes and the shop starts selling clothes, that would need planning permission for a change of use, so why not second homes.
"You have to have permission to turn a house into one of multiple occupation, so it makes sense to make people seek planning permission before it is turned into a second home."
Mr Wallis said the issue at the core of his motion was that local authorities need to plan for an area.
He said that spiralling numbers of second homes, which were often empty, could spell long-term problems of sustainability for community facilities like a village school or health cover which could be dealt with by owners obtaining planning permission beforehand.
According to figures provided by Cornwall Council's Community Networks, the parishes with the highest number of second homes are around the tourism magnets which dot the coastline around the Camel estuary and South East Cornwall.
At just under 43 per cent, St Minver Lowlands parish has the highest percentage of second homes – 507 of its 1,118 dwellings.
Second in the list is St John parish in Caradon, where 140 of the 342 dwellings are second homes – nearly 41 per cent. St Merryn has just over 38 per cent second homes, St Minver Highlands has nearly 38 per cent and St Endellion has almost 35 per cent.
The other parishes in the top ten are Maker with Rame with 34.3 per cent of its dwellings second homes, St Just in Roseland at 33.4 per cent, Lanteglos at 30.4 per cent, Padstow with 29.3 per cent and Gerrans with 28.3per cent.
The parish with the fewest second homes is Botusfleming, with 0.3 per cent.
According to the figures for larger areas obtained by Mr Wallis, Wadebridge and Padstow is far and away the area with the largest number of second homes with 2,494, or around a fifth, of the 11,722 dwellings. Meanwhile Hayle and St Ives have 11.8 per cent second homes and Camelford has 9.3 per cent.
At the bottom of the league, Bodmin has just 1.5 per cent with only 129 of its 8,492 dwellings second homes, while Camborne, Pool and Redruth has 1 per cent and China Clay country has just 0.9 per cent.
Mr Wallis said he was not attacking second home owners.
"That would be wrong, as second homes do contribute to the Cornish economy," he said.
"However, like I have said before, there is a fine line of contributing, or having a negative impact on the local community and economy."