Furious residents of some of Britain’s most picturesque seaside towns have slammed wealthy Londoners for snapping up second homes in the area during the pandemic and pricing them out of the housing market. 

Covid lockdowns and the rise of flexible working saw a surge of Londoners travelling outside of the capital, spending a record £54.9bn on properties outside the city last year – the highest value on record by far.

The rush for second homes has brought misery to residents of towns, with soaring house values pricing young people out of the housing market.

Now, with wealthy Londoners firing up their Chelsea tractors and preparing to descend on their holiday getaways to soak up the Easter sun, more residents have shared their fury and called for curbs to protect property for locals. 

Along with the second home owners, AirBnB staycationers will also descend on the towns this weekend, leading to more worries about congestion and noise. 

Meg Ennis, 70, who has lived in North Berwick, a town popular with tourists in East Lothian, since 1970, said: ‘People have rediscovered North Berwick. There’s not so many bed and breakfasts and loads more Airbnbs. Tourists have always come here. 

‘Parking is diabolical here, it’s terrible. They’ve not got enough places to park. During the first lockdown people were coming down for the day when there were no toilets open. They were parking on double yellow lines, traffic couldn’t get through, it was a bit of a disgrace to be quite honest.

‘A lot of homes here are holiday homes and the youngsters can’t afford to pay the prices so they have to move away even though they were born and brought up here.’ 

Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail.

She said: ‘It has been really difficult for us especially after the pandemic because the prices are getting higher and higher – people have been trying to get out of busy cities and buy properties in quieter places like Swanage.

‘We’re struggling to find staff because it is mostly holiday homes, Airbnbs and second homes. There just aren’t many people of working age here and we are so far away from Bournemouth and Poole that people don’t want to commute. 

Seaside towns (pictured: Salcombe in Devon) are bracing for an onslaught of Londoners rushing to their second homes and AirBnB lets this Easter – after watching the properties be hoovered up by wealthy city-dwellers during the pandemic

Rich Londoners are firing up the Chelsea tractors and motoring to seaside towns across the country to enjoy the first Covid-restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years. Pictured: Westbound traffic on the A303 towards Devon and Cornwall

 Rich Londoners are firing up the Chelsea tractors and motoring to seaside towns across the country to enjoy the first Covid-restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years. Pictured: Westbound traffic on the A303 towards Devon and Cornwall

Easter weekend holiday traffic queuing on the westbound A35 near Dorchester in Dorset as holidaymakers flock to the coast to enjoy the scorching hot sunshine on Good Friday

Easter weekend holiday traffic queuing on the westbound A35 near Dorchester in Dorset as holidaymakers flock to the coast to enjoy the scorching hot sunshine on Good Friday

‘I am a good example. I have been trying to find a place I can afford for four years but prices are really high.

‘For the last two years we have had to close during evenings for half the week because we don’t have the staff so it has had a big impact on business.

‘We are mostly in need of chefs as well as butchers and fishmongers because we have a butchers and fishery in the restaurant.

‘We also need three front of house staff. The only young workers are here seasonally – like when they come home from uni.’

Another example that came to light this week was the North Yorkshire village of Robin Hood’s Bay where it has been claimed that only 30 per cent of properties are now owned by locals – with all but five in the area near the harbour believed to be either second homes or holiday lets. 

The average house in the village now fetches £373,000 – more than 12 times average annual earnings in the area and out of the reach of first-time buyers.

The issue is creating divisions in picturesque parts of Britain between locals who profit from tourism and those who do not – with MailOnline visiting a number of other second-home UK hotspots this week to find out more.

Among them was North Berwick in East Lothian, where established residents fear the town is unable to maintain the rising demand from tourists amid a picture of ‘not so many bed and breakfasts and loads more Airbnbs’.

Another was Swanage in Dorset, where locals said that younger people can no longer afford to rent or buy there and are moving away amid a boom in second home ownership – while skilled workers are also moving out.

Well-established tourist hotspots such St Ives in Cornwall have introduced restrictions on new builds being sold as second homes but it is said that such bans often do not solve the property crisis and instead harm tourism.

Here, MailOnline looks at five of the biggest second home hotspots in Britain and what the situation is in each: 

NORTH BERWICK   EAST LOTHIAN 

Population: 7,840 (including 1,391 aged 0-15; 4,200 aged 16-64; and 2,249 aged 65+) as of 2020

Average house price: £479,693 over past year (up 9% on 2020; up 14% on 2019 peak of £418,978) 

Distance from nearest city: 22 miles (from Edinburgh) – 36 minutes by train or 46 minutes by car 

Local attractions: Scottish Seabird Centre, Tantallon Castle, Glen Golf Course and Dirleton Castle 

North Berwick in East Lothian has always been a holidaymaker hotspot, but locals believe that the seaside town is now busier than ever.

The small town is beloved by tourists for its golden sandy beaches and charming High Street whilst its stunning golf courses attract revellers from all over the world.

The area has allured punters for decades with its striking coastal views as well as the five-star Scottish Seabird Sanctuary, but locals now fear that the town is unable to maintain the ever growing demand from holidaygoers.

Meg Ennis, 70, who has lived in North Berwick since 1970, said: ‘People have rediscovered North Berwick. There’s not so many bed and breakfasts and loads more Airbnbs. Tourists have always come here. 

Trish Grant, 49, who works in Laura Thomas Co in North Berwick

Laura Thomas Co in North Berwick

Trish Grant, 49, who works in Laura Thomas Co in North Berwick town centre in East Lothian, said that some of her friends live on the High Street and they ‘have been approached on many occasions to actually rent out space in their house’

Locals who reside in North Berwick in East Lothian believe that the seaside town near Edinburgh is now busier than ever

Locals who reside in North Berwick in East Lothian believe that the seaside town near Edinburgh is now busier than ever

People enjoy the beach at North Berwick in East Lothian, which is a popular spot for those living in nearby Edinburgh

People enjoy the beach at North Berwick in East Lothian, which is a popular spot for those living in nearby Edinburgh

The small town of North Berwick is beloved by tourists for its golden sandy beaches and charming High Street

The small town of North Berwick is beloved by tourists for its golden sandy beaches and charming High Street

‘They used to come by train, they used to go on the boats, or golfing, you name it. They’ve always had tourists here but I think perhaps there are more tourists around at the moment.’

Although the town’s charming tight and winding streets allow visitors their desired countryside getaway, locals have also slammed tourists for their chaotic parking.

Meg Ennis, 70, who works in the Sugar Mountain sweet shop in North Berwick, has lived in the town since 1970 and said there has been a rise in Airbnbs and the parking is 'diabolical'

Meg Ennis, 70, who works in the Sugar Mountain sweet shop in North Berwick, has lived in the town since 1970 and said there has been a rise in Airbnbs and the parking is ‘diabolical’

Ms Ennis, who now works in the High Street’s Sugar Mountain sweet shop, continued: ‘Parking is diabolical here, it’s terrible. They’ve not got enough places to park.

‘During the first lockdown people were coming down for the day when there were no toilets open. They were parking on double yellow lines, traffic couldn’t get through, it was a bit of a disgrace to be quite honest.’

The town is also home to five surrounding golf courses which overlook stunning bays of the Firth of Forth.

However, since the rise in popularity of staycations some locals are even considering giving up their homes to deal with the overflow of travelling golfers.

Trish Grant, 49, who works in Laura Thomas Co. on the High Street, said: ‘My best friends live on the High Street and they have been approached on many occasions to actually rent out space in their house.

‘Because it’s so busy here in the summertime with the golf and stuff, a lot of people, who live not just on the High Street, rent out spaces in their house for people who need accommodation.

‘The area just gets mobbed in the summer. I don’t know if they (her friends) went ahead with it but they were approached about it.

‘It meant they would give up part of their house but there was also talk of them moving out of their accommodation for three months over the summer to allow holiday makers to live in their home.

‘There’s a lot of that, there’s a lot of people who are saying ‘Oh I can make £6,000 in the summer so I’m going to go and rent my place and I’ll go and stay with my parents’. A lot of people are approached to do that in the summer months.’

North Berwick in East Lothian is beloved by tourists for its golden sandy beaches and charming High Street

North Berwick in East Lothian is beloved by tourists for its golden sandy beaches and charming High Street

Locals in North Berwick now fear that the town is unable to maintain the ever growing demand from holidaygoers

Locals in North Berwick now fear that the town is unable to maintain the ever growing demand from holidaygoers

North Berwick is now third in the list of towns most sought after by second home buyers according to a study last December

North Berwick is now third in the list of towns most sought after by second home buyers according to a study last December

Now third in the list of UK towns most sought after by second home buyers according to a study by Lakeshore Leisure Group in December last year, youngsters in North Berwick may struggle to find homes in their own town.

Retiree Denis Mccrudden, 67, said he was pleased to see tourists visiting North Berwick and loved to see them 'spending money in the town, having a good time'

Retiree Denis Mccrudden, 67, said he was pleased to see tourists visiting North Berwick and loved to see them ‘spending money in the town, having a good time’

Posters for job listings across High Street windows stand as a daunting suggestion of the impact this may have.

Ms Ennis added: ‘A lot of homes here are holiday homes and the youngsters can’t afford to pay the prices so they have to move away even though they were born and brought up here.

‘Generally speaking kids get bored here, even though there’s lovely facilities you know what kids are like. Once they’ve left school they’re bored, they want to get away somewhere but they usually come back with their own family when they have a family.’

Ms Grant agreed, adding: ‘I don’t live in North Berwick but I know North Berwick and I know It’s expensive to buy a place here and there are a lot of holiday places.

‘It’s definitely quite an affluent area but more and more people coming into the shop and especially today are on Easter break and they’re all saying they’re in local accommodations.

‘Whether that is impacting on young people trying to buy or get onto the property ladder, I mean how hard is it now anyway? It’s harder than when I first bought my flat.’

However, having suffered a great loss of sales during the pandemic, many High Street shops may be thankful of the influx in customers.

The average house price in North Berwick has been £479,693 over past year, which is up 9 per cent on 2020

The average house price in North Berwick has been £479,693 over past year, which is up 9 per cent on 2020

North Berwick is located 22 miles from the nearest city of Edinburgh, which is 36 minutes by train or 46 minutes by car

North Berwick is located 22 miles from the nearest city of Edinburgh, which is 36 minutes by train or 46 minutes by car

North Berwick features local attractions such as the Scottish Seabird Centre, Tantallon Castle and Glen Golf Course

North Berwick features local attractions such as the Scottish Seabird Centre, Tantallon Castle and Glen Golf Course

Some locals were happy to see North Berwick as a lively area over the summer where businesses can flourish and family can enjoy the area.

George Baxter, 70, said he believed staycations are essential for businesses in North Berwick to recover from the impact of lockdown, and said the town was 'definitely livelier'

George Baxter, 70, said he believed staycations are essential for businesses in North Berwick to recover from the impact of lockdown, and said the town was ‘definitely livelier’

Retiree Denis Mccrudden, 67, said: ‘I don’t mind at all when tourists come to the area, I love it. I love to see people coming in and spending money in the town, having a good time and coming in for a meal or for a drink.

‘Financially it’s great, absolutely. The other week around 100 (tourists) got off the train and the independent shops get to make a few bob.

‘I don’t have a problem, I go out to the putting green and you get to see the children enjoying it, it’s great. And the grandparents, they love it.’

George Baxter, 70, revealed how he believed staycations are essential for businesses to recover from the impact of lockdown.

He said: ‘Well it’s definitely livelier which is good especially after the past couple of years, the local businesses really suffered quite heavily, some think that this is a God-send.

‘It might just be the silver lining because people are scared to go abroad now and we might get more people coming here and spending their money here rather than abroad.

‘The only problem I can think of is parking, as soon as you get into spring and summer parking becomes very difficult. But it’s good to see business coming into the town because it’s going to help and it needs it.’

SWANAGE   DORSET  

Population: 9,702 (including 1,197 aged 0-15; 5,088 aged 16-64; and 3,417 aged 65+) as of 2020

Average house price: £389,727 over past year (no change on 2020; up 15% on 2019 peak of £339,679)

Distance from nearest city: 39 miles (from Southampton) – 120 minutes by train/bus or 90 minutes by car

Local attractions: Swanage Pier, Durlston Country Park, Swanage Railway and Corfe Castle

Hospitality owners in a Dorset seaside town are struggling to find staff as young workers have become priced out of the local property market by second homeowners.

Restaurants and hotels in Swanage, Dorset, are being forced to reduce their opening hours as they cannot find the staff to serve customers.

They have described a perfect storm of tourists flooding to the area while skilled workers like chefs are moving out of the area that is incredibly popular for second homes.

The demand for a holiday bolthole by the sea from wealthy people living in London and the Home Counties has driven up property prices in recent years.

The average price of a house in Swanage now stands at £389,727 according to RightMove – well above the UK average of £277,000. The figure is also 16 times higher than the average annual salary for Swanage.

Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail. She is also struggling to find staff 'because it is mostly holiday homes, Airbnbs and second homes'

Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail. She is also struggling to find staff ‘because it is mostly holiday homes, Airbnbs and second homes’

The seaside town of Swanage in Dorset, where hospitality owners are struggling to find staff with young workers priced out

The seaside town of Swanage in Dorset, where hospitality owners are struggling to find staff with young workers priced out

Holidaymakers enjoying a warm day on Swanage beach – a town which has seen a rapid rise in second home ownership

As a result, younger people can no longer afford to rent or buy there and are moving away to areas like Poole and Bournemouth.

Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail.

Ms Ronzevelli, 33, said: ‘It has been really difficult for us especially after the pandemic because the prices are getting higher and higher – people have been trying to get out of busy cities and buy properties in quieter places like Swanage.

‘We’re struggling to find staff because it is mostly holiday homes, Airbnbs and second homes. There just aren’t many people of working age here and we are so far away from Bournemouth and Poole that people don’t want to commute.

‘I am a good example. I have been trying to find a place I can afford for four years but prices are really high.

‘For the last two years we have had to close during evenings for half the week because we don’t have the staff so it has had a big impact on business.

The demand for a holiday bolthole by the sea in Swanage from wealthy people has driven up property prices in recent years

The demand for a holiday bolthole by the sea in Swanage from wealthy people has driven up property prices in recent years

The average price of a house in Swanage now stands at £429,000 - well above the UK average of £277,000

The average price of a house in Swanage now stands at £429,000 – well above the UK average of £277,000

Cars parked up on a road in Swanage this week as people head to the Dorset seaside for the Easter holidays

Cars parked up on a road in Swanage this week as people head to the Dorset seaside for the Easter holidays

‘We are mostly in need of chefs as well as butchers and fishmongers because we have a butchers and fishery in the restaurant.

‘We also need three front of house staff. The only young workers are here seasonally – like when they come home from uni.’

One well-established business, the Grand Hotel, has had to limit its lunchtime menu to just sandwiches because they have just one staff member in the kitchen.

Lindsay Bish, general manager of the Victorian era establishment, said trainee chefs cannot afford to rent in the area unless their employers provide accommodation.

She said: ‘Staffing issues are a real problem for hospitality businesses here. If you look on Indeed.com everyone is searching for chefs. During the pandemic they had to leave the area or retrain and many of them haven’t come back.

‘One of my chefs had to relocate because he couldn’t afford to pay his mortgage. It is just so difficult to find qualified chefs to replace them.

One well-established business, the Grand Hotel, has had to limit its lunchtime menu to just sandwiches because they have just one staff member in the kitchen. Trainee chefs cannot afford to rent in the area unless their employers provide housing

One well-established business, the Grand Hotel, has had to limit its lunchtime menu to just sandwiches because they have just one staff member in the kitchen. Trainee chefs cannot afford to rent in the area unless their employers provide housing

Restaurants and hotels in Swanage, Dorset, are being forced to reduce their opening hours as they cannot find the staff

Restaurants and hotels in Swanage, Dorset, are being forced to reduce their opening hours as they cannot find the staff

‘We are going to the colleges to get apprentices but many of them insist on us providing staff accommodation. All our accommodation is taken up.

‘Compared to the salary it is expensive to rent here. There has got to be affordable housing. Swanage is only small but it has a huge demand.

‘We should have a team of five people in our kitchen – we only have one chef plus a trainee. We can’t run a normal lunch service anymore.

‘We have had to reduce it down to sandwiches so our trainee can prepare them and our chef gets a day off.

‘We are trying to work as best we can with what we’ve got – we’re lucky we have such a great team who really pull out the stops.’

Another hotelier in the area, who wished not to be named, said: ‘It is a tiny population and people can’t afford to travel from Bournemouth and Poole. It’s been difficult for young people in the area for a long time.

‘All the hotels here are struggling to find staff. At the Grand Hotel you’ll struggle to get a biscuit and a cup of tea at lunchtime because they just don’t have the manpower.’ 

FALMOUTH  CORNWALL 

  • Population: 22,455 as of 2015 ONS estimates (up from 21,797 given in 2011 census)
  • Average house price: £362,381 over past year (up 6% on 2020; up 15% on 2019 peak of £313,841)
  • Distance from nearest city: 10 miles (from Truro) – 30 minutes by train or 20 minutes by car
  • Local attractions: Pendennis Castle, Glendurgan Garden and Gyllyngvase Beach

When a two-bedroom house, albeit in a sought after part of Cornwall, goes on the market with a £1.25 million price tag it is a perfect example of the craziness which has engulfed the property market.

Admittedly, Fern Cottage, in Port Isaac, in the north of the county, has a very distinctive frontage – it was the exterior of the GP surgery in the TV hit Doc Martin – and it is in a wonderful position overlooking the harbour.

But it is clearly way out of reach of any of the locals who desperately need to live in the area in which they work and will no doubt be snapped up by a wealthy second home owner from close to London.

However, it is a painful dichotomy also being experienced in and around the port of Falmouth on the south coast. Just across the Carrick Roads, a short boat ride away in St Mawes, property prices rose 48 per cent last year.

Jayne Kirkham, the Labour party group leader on Cornwall Council, said Airbnb listings have 'gone wild' in Falmouth

Jayne Kirkham, the Labour party group leader on Cornwall Council, said Airbnb listings have ‘gone wild’ in Falmouth

People enjoy the sunshine on Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, last summer - a popular area for UK holidaymakers

People enjoy the sunshine on Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, last summer – a popular area for UK holidaymakers

Tourism, which now extends in to the shoulder months from Easter to October half term, is worth £2billion a year to the Cornish economy, 23 per cent of the county's Gross Domestic Product. The harbour at Falmouth is pictured above

Tourism, which now extends in to the shoulder months from Easter to October half term, is worth £2billion a year to the Cornish economy, 23 per cent of the county’s Gross Domestic Product. The harbour at Falmouth is pictured above

It means the likes of midwife Jenn Gill have been increasingly pushed down the housing ladder, many in to temporary and long term homelessness, as people cash in.

Ms Gill, 48, was forced to give up her professional registration last year. Partly because she is crippled by painful rheumatoid arthritis, partly because of an increasingly lengthy commute and partly because she had no fixed abode.

Visit Cornwall chief Malcolm Bell said he understood the pressures brought by second homes, holiday lets and Airbnb listings but he pointed out that it is a free country

She said: ‘I had been renting a caravan in a village just outside Falmouth for £450 a month. It wasn’t ideal but it was a home and I was very grateful to have it. So many people down here don’t.

‘But my landlord suddenly served a no fault eviction notice on me, giving me two months to move out, because a relative had gone through a relationship break up and needed the sanctuary the caravan offered.

‘Post-Covid the situation has gone bananas. People are selling at the peak of the market or putting former rental properties on Airbnb and making a killing so there is just nothing to rent at an affordable price.

‘It has become a struggle between the haves and the have nots. My eviction meant I went on to the emergency housing list but the closest the council could find me a place was Somerset.

‘How was I supposed to carry out my job as a child bereavement support midwife from there? I couldn’t. My commute, which used to take 15 minutes, was now an hour and a half each way to complete my caseload.

‘All the stress aggravated my condition and I have suffered from poor mental health. The situation just became untenable. I have managed to find myself a room in sheltered accommodation through a housing association.

‘I don’t take it for granted I am incredibly lucky to have it. But I am sharing with four men with more acute needs than me and it is again not ideal. I don’t know whether this is a long term option.

Local attractions in the Cornish town of Falmouth include Pendennis Castle, Glendurgan Garden and Gyllyngvase Beach

Local attractions in the Cornish town of Falmouth include Pendennis Castle, Glendurgan Garden and Gyllyngvase Beach 

The average house price is Falmouth was £362,381 over the past year - up 6% on 2020, and up 15% on the 2019 peak

The average house price is Falmouth was £362,381 over the past year – up 6% on 2020, and up 15% on the 2019 peak

‘When I went to the council for help I was told there were 250 re-applying every day to be housed and 500 people a week coming on to the emergency housing list because they had lost their accommodation.

‘It is the hidden side of the Cornish ideal. Sadly, due to cutbacks the council are under staffed to deal with it and some of them only work part time. There just is not enough properties to go around.

‘Sadly I saw the toll this was taking on the population in my role as a midwife, as a family nurse and when I was working for a GP surgery. I knew one young family who were stuck in a caravan 60 miles from their support network.

‘Falmouth has become a place I no longer recognise. It’s more like an inner city London borough now. The community has been diluted and I did the jobs I did because I believed in that community and wanted to help.’

Jayne Kirkham is the Labour party group leader on Cornwall Council. She represents the depressed Penwerris ward in Falmouth and was selected as the Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate at the last election.

She said: ‘We are facing the perfect storm. People are investing pension money in to property particularly in hot spots like this, Airbnb listings have gone wild and the university has expanded significantly since 2018.

The population of Falmouth was 22,455 as of 2015 ONS estimates, which was up from 21,797 given in the 2011 census

The population of Falmouth was 22,455 as of 2015 ONS estimates, which was up from 21,797 given in the 2011 census

Falmouth is 10 miles from the nearest city of Truro and is a popular holiday destination in the South West of England

Falmouth is 10 miles from the nearest city of Truro and is a popular holiday destination in the South West of England

‘All this means property prices have gone through the roof making it impossible for anyone but the very wealthy to buy and Airbnb has meant the rental market has shrunk significantly.

‘When I was first elected one of the first issues I faced was with a lot of single men had lived in low rent bedsits above shops who were being kicked oput so landlords could charge students £400 a month per room instead.

Average UK house prices jump by £27k in a year

The average UK house price in February was £27,000 higher than a year earlier as it reached a record £277,000, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said prices increased by 10.9% in February against the same month last year.

This highlighted an acceleration in price growth after the statistics body reported a 10.2% rise in January.

February’s jump in prices was beyond the expectations of experts, with analysts having forecast 10.1%.

 

Ceri Lewis, house prices statistician at the ONS, said: ‘House prices rose again this month, with prices in the UK and England now at record levels.

‘The fast rise in UK rental prices also continued, with their highest annual growth in nearly six years.

‘All nations and regions saw increases, with London experiencing its strongest rise in a year.’

The ONS said house prices in England grew by 10.7% to an average of £296,000 in February.

Wales reported a rise of 14.2% to £205,000, while prices increased by 11.7% to £181,000 in Scotland, and by 7.9% to £159,000 in Northern Ireland.

Prices across London saw the lowest annual growth in England but picked up slightly to rise by 8.1% as the return of City workers bolstered the capital’s recovery.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: ‘These numbers show house prices continuing on their apparently inexorable upward path but that’s not quite what’s happening on the ground now.

‘Demand is still well ahead of supply but concerns about the rising cost of living, squeezed pay packets and potentially further interest rate rises are reducing price growth and transaction numbers.

‘Looking forward, we expect activity to return to more ‘normal’ pre-pandemic conditions as supply picks up as part of the usual spring bounce.’

The ONS also revealed that private rental prices paid by tenants across the UK increased by 2.4% in the year to March, up slightly from 2.3% the previous month.

‘Now it is young families who are being squeezed out, couples with children who we just do not have enough accommodation for. We are having to offer them alternatives in Bristol and even Cardiff, far from their home town.

‘Last summer, the G7 came to Falmouth but the knock on effect was the emergency housing we could provide in hotels was withdrawn because those establishments could rent those rooms short term for far more money.

‘Finally there is cross party agreement we cannot let this continue and we are looking at multiple solutions. We have spent £39million buying properties back off the open market but that is not enough at current prices.

‘Slowly we are enforcing covenants on Right to Buy homes purchased in the 1980s but which were being let to the influx of students or even being listed on Airbnb at ridiculous prices.

‘Last summer, around the time of the G7 again, one house on a deprived estate known as the Beacon, in Falmouth, was listed at £2500 a week – and they got it. We have put an end to that now.

‘Work in Cornwall is very seasonal and average wages are 20 per cent lower than the rest of the country. But house prices and rents are 20 per cent higher. It’s easy to see the sums don’t add up.

‘This social divide is acutely clear on the seafront where there is now a community of van dwellers who line the roads beside the luxury flats. The flat owners complain but the vans have nowhere else to go.

‘It may be will have to consider doubling or even trebling council tax or perhaps double stamp duty on second homes as a deterrent and ring fence it for new housing but we need devolved powers to do that.

‘We are becoming increasingly frustrated by a government which would rather bring a lighter touch to planning when what we need is stricter enforcement perhaps even formal applications for second home purchases.’

Tourism, which now extends in to the shoulder months from Easter to October half term, is worth £2billion a year to the Cornish economy, 23 per cent of the county’s Gross Domestic Product.

It accounts for one in three private sector jobs and employs 53,000 people. There is a permanent population of about 530,000 which swells by a further 190,000 each day at the summer peak. Five millions people visit a year.

It is not difficult to see that infrastructure built to support the permanent residents struggles to cope with the influx of tourists, unflatteringly referred to as emmets, or ants, is stretched to breaking point.

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said he understood the pressures brought by second homes, holiday lets and Airbnb listings but he pointed out it is a free country.

He explained: ‘If someone wants to sell their home down here because they can get a good price for it then they are legally entitled to do so. If someone wants to buy a second home here the same applies.

‘We have wealth cascading down the generations. They already have a good salary, a good pension and so they want to invest elsewhere. Property is often the answer. The British have an obsession with it.

‘But it is what you do with that property. You could buy it to let it to local people. I challenge Gordon Ramsay, who has the most fantastic home here, constantly on this point.

‘Why did he need three houses here all of which were clearly not affordable to local people. He more than anyone, working in the hospitality industry, should appreciate the issues he is helping create.

In the north of Cornwall, Fern Cottage in Port Isaac, has gone on the market with a £1.25million price tag. It has a very distinctive frontage, having been the exterior of the GP surgery in the TV hit Doc Martin, and overlooks the harbour

In the north of Cornwall, Fern Cottage in Port Isaac, has gone on the market with a £1.25million price tag. It has a very distinctive frontage, having been the exterior of the GP surgery in the TV hit Doc Martin, and overlooks the harbour

The Falmouth Hotel is one of the destinations those visiting the Cornish town can stay in if they cannot book an Airbnb home

The Falmouth Hotel is one of the destinations those visiting the Cornish town can stay in if they cannot book an Airbnb home

‘Why not buy a series of cheaper houses perhaps away from the desirable areas where he could put youngster working in hospitality and charge them a sensible rent. He would still be making a return.

Tax crackdown planned on second-home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to tourists 

Second-home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to holidaymakers face a tax crackdown from Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

The Mail on Sunday revealed in January that Mr Gove is threatening to hit them with new bills which could run to over £1,000 a year, to stop them abusing a tax loophole.

His officials say the crackdown will benefit destinations including the Lake District, Devon and Cornwall by encouraging tourism.

Under current rules, second-home owners in England can avoid paying council tax by saying they intend to let their properties out to other holidaymakers and so qualify as small businesses.

However, the vast majority of the 65,000 such ‘holiday lets’ in England can also then benefit from business rates relief of 100 per cent depending on the properties’ value.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) also says that there is currently ‘no requirement’ to produce evidence that a second home has actually been let out – not just left empty.

But in a tax change set for April next year, home owners will have to prove they are let for at least 70 days a year or be forced to pay council tax instead.

As Mr Gove’s officials pointed out yesterday, the move would protect ‘genuine’ small holiday letting businesses and ensure second-home owners paid a ‘fair’ contribution towards public services.

Mr Gove’s plans come after a consultation launched in 2018 and threats last year by the Treasury to close the loophole.

According to reports, the number of holiday lets in England has been increasing year on year from 50,960 in 2019 to 65,000 now.

The Covid pandemic is said to have fuelled the trend, as London and other city dwellers sought to escape to the countryside.

But the move has also been branded ‘an easy way to save on tax’ as any property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less is effectively exempt from paying business rates.

DLUHC officials have confirmed that 97 per cent of the existing 65,000 holiday lets fell into that category.

‘The first and most important thing we need to do is have a list of second homes, whatever their purpose. Then we will know the real scale of the problem and how best to tackle it.

‘Perhaps we do need to have planning permission before you can buy or holiday let or Airbnb-list your property. We have to take the emotion out of the argument though and those emotions are running very high.’

Comedian, artist and musician Seamas Carey is Cornish to his core and was born and brought up in Falmouth but can no longer afford to rent let alone buy there. He understands the emotion.

Instead, he acknowledges he is ‘very lucky’ to have let a property from a friend in Camborne, a working class area along the spine of Cornwall, with a studio to work in in the garden.

Mr Carey, 28, moved away with work first to Bristol and then London because he did not believe he had a future in Cornwall. But its allure dragged him back and he now accepts long distance travel to live there.

He said: ‘There is something slightly heroic about living here. It is a magical place full of contradictions and with lots of rough edges I don’t want smoothed out. It has landscape which is as alluring as its people and its history.’

Mr Carey recently completed a podcast series called The Reason Why. It takes its title from the unofficial Cornish anthem about Trelawney’s rebel army of 1697 and its 20,000 soldiers and is possibly an echo of an even older balled from the earlier An Gof rebellion of 1497.

It hit the headlines when Tim Smit, the man who re-discovered the Lost Gardens of Heligan and built the Eden Project at St Austell, controversially professed his love for Cornwall but not the Cornish people.

He said: ‘There is this patronising view that Cornwall was fishing, mining and farming and there is not a lot of any of those left now. It is a complicated picture of cause and effect but people feel disenfranchised.

‘During lockdown I had so many messages from friends saying they were finally realising the dream, they were selling up and moving down here. part of me was pleased, part of me was appalled.

‘I am only too well aware of the issues going on here right now; the lack of affordable housing and the high demand which is pushing house prices up and up; I’m worried about the lack of infrastructure, hospital beds, the roads filling up, the bins overflowing, the surging footfall in the countryside causing damage to the landscape and the eco system.

‘I am concerned people want to move here with no understanding for what came before and they project their own fantasies on to this place and therefore the strangeness and the odd little things about Cornwall that I love, get lost.

‘I knew I couldn’t put all that in a text message reply to those friends who were moving. I didn’t know how I could reply truthfully to my mates while staying true to Cornwall.

‘That does sound a bit like the rhetoric we heard during the Brexit debate, hostility to outsiders, but there is a real concern Cornwall can often he seen as a place of fantasy while ignoring the reality.

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth is one of the major attractions for tourists visiting the area

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth is one of the major attractions for tourists visiting the area

‘During the pandemic you could not move for hours and hours of endless TV programmes eulogising the mystery and attraction of Cornwall. Yet that plethora of content probably made the situation worse.

‘Some friends who came have integrated in to the community, I think they have done good things and brought good ideas. But some are beginning to question the wisdom now they can no longer work from home.

‘I accept the endless hours driving up and down the A30 is the price I have to pay for my decision to live here. I don’t have solutions but I am prepared to flag up the issues. It’s my duty.

‘In my stand up show, I take the audience on a journey to the heart of Cornish nationalism. I ask them if they think we are culturally oppressed? So should we take back control to parrot that awful phrase? Should we go as far as to build a wall?

‘I think Cornwall has become more diverse and people are quick to use the phrase gentrified. But is that all bad. Surely we can take the best and blend it with the best which was already here. I happen to like sourdough bread.’ 

SALCOMBE  DEVON 

  • Population: 1,909 as of 2011 (claimed to surge to between 19,000 and 25,000 in summer)
  • Average house price: £895,329 over past year (up 8% on 2020; up 12% on 2018 peak of £799,627)
  • Distance from nearest city: 23 miles (from Plymouth) – 100 minutes by train/bus or 50 minutes by car
  • Local attractions: South Sands Beach, Overbecks Garden, East Soar and Salcombe Harbour

Jeff Gillard, 44, has lived in Salcombe since he was a young boy. He is something of a jack of all trades having managed a hotel, run a nearby tourist attraction and worked as a fireman.

He is also a trainee paramedic, helps crew the town’s lifeboats and is a director of a successful seafood company which exports crab and lobster caught locally.

Mr Gillard had been renting a two bed flat with a friend and after ten years on the housing waiting list was lucky enough to be allocated one of the new build council owned properties at the top of the town.

Out of season, Salcombe, where the average house price is around £900,000, has a population of around 1,900 people

People in Salcombe, Devon, this week - which is a popular place for visitors in the spring and summer months

People in Salcombe, Devon, this week – which is a popular place for visitors in the spring and summer months

People walk down a high street in Salcombe, Devon, where many properties are now second homes

People walk down a high street in Salcombe, Devon, where many properties are now second homes 

He said: ‘I know I have been given something of a golden ticket. Life moves on though and my partner and I have recently become parents and sadly we are squeezed in to a one bed flat.

‘There is nothing for us to do but go back on the list and see if we can manage to find two bed accommodation. I am under no illusions thought that could take quite a while again.

‘I am in something of an invidious position because I realise why there isn’t enough housing to go around, whether rented or to buy. I’ve no hope of getting on the property ladder because wages just don’t match up.

‘Yet I have a lot of good friends who are second homeowners and many of them understand the local community and do their bit to help and support it. Certainly a lot of us rely on them for our bread and butter.

‘Last year only two rentals were posted in six months. Everything else was on Airbnb. One was a six month winter let and the rent even for that was well over £1,000 per month.

‘I think for the RNLI it has the potential to be a real issue because we need our volunteers close by day and night. Older members sorted property here years ago but as crews get younger where can they afford to go?’

Out of season, Salcombe, where the average house price is around £900,000, has a population of around 1,900 people but that can surge to as many as 25,000 at the height of summer with holidaymakers and day trippers.

The population of Salcome can surge to as many as 25,000 at the height of summer with holidaymakers and day trippers

The population of Salcome can surge to as many as 25,000 at the height of summer with holidaymakers and day trippers

People walk past a coffee shop in Salcombe, Devon, which is a popular seaside spot with British holidaymakers

People walk past a coffee shop in Salcombe, Devon, which is a popular seaside spot with British holidaymakers

Clearly the local infrastructure comes under serious pressure at these times. Packing people in is quite a problem with less than 500 parking spaces and yearly permits will set you back £2,100.

Almost 60 per cent of property in the heart of the town is owned by second home owners and in the picturesque surrounding villages that figure can reach a staggering 90 per cent.

Last summer, South Hams district council introduced strict curbs on second homes by making it a legal requirement for all newbuilds to be sold as a principal residence in perpetuity.

It enforced a planning condition on developers to attach a so called section 106 agreement to property title deeds thereby avoiding them being conveniently forgotten or misplaced as in the past.

This allowed some homes which were genuinely bought as the main home to be sold on years later and adding to the growing list of second homes and holiday lets not available to locals.

Salcombe already had a local letting plan which ensured only people with a tie to the area could rent any newbuilds which became available from the council or housing associations.

Last December, Labour MP Luke Pollard, whose seat is in nearby Plymouth, stood up in the Commons to announce a plan which he hoped would prevent communities being ‘hollowed out.’

He called his radical five point manifesto First Homes, Not Second Homes and said it was important to recognise that in coastal and rural areas in particular the housing market was broken.

Almost 60 per cent of property in the heart of the town of Salcombe in Devon is owned by second home owners

Almost 60 per cent of property in the heart of the town of Salcombe in Devon is owned by second home owners

The average house price in Salcombe was £895,329 over the past year - up 8% on 2020, and up 12% on the 2018 peak

The average house price in Salcombe was £895,329 over the past year – up 8% on 2020, and up 12% on the 2018 peak

He said: ‘House prices are surging and they are out of reach for people on average and low incomes. Tenants are being turfed out of their homes to make way for second homes, holiday lets and Air BnB conversions.

‘Enough is enough. The low wage rural economy means local people can’t afford to live in the communities where they grew up. This is wrong and the pandemic has done nothing but turbo charge the crisis.

‘It is no surprise people are holidaying in our region and visitors are more than welcome. But welcoming tourists must not come at the expense of local people being able to live in their own communities.’

His five point plan involves:

  1. New powers from government for councils to progressively raise taxes on holiday lets and unused second homes, up to a quadrupling of council tax where homes are left empty for much of the year.
  2. Licensing second homes, Airbnbs and holiday lets – with a minimum of 51% of homes in any community being for local people. Councils should have the powers to raise this level to reflect local circumstances.
  3. A ‘Last Shop in the Village Fund’ – powers for local councils to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy on holiday lets and Airbnbs, administered by local authorities, to support local shops, pharmacies, post offices, and pubs.
  4. Commitment to build affordable homes and social housing across the South West with a priority for local people
  5. Locking in the discount of new homes for future renters and buyers to ensure affordable homes are not lost after the first family moves on.

Mr Pollard concluded: ‘This manifesto is simple but bold. We need bold action. This is not rocket science.’

The population of Salcombe can surge to as many as 25,000 at the height of summer with holidaymakers and day trippers

The population of Salcombe can surge to as many as 25,000 at the height of summer with holidaymakers and day trippers

Local attractions in Salcombe include South Sands Beach, Overbecks Garden, East Soar and Salcombe Harbour

Local attractions in Salcombe include South Sands Beach, Overbecks Garden, East Soar and Salcombe Harbour

Nikki Turton is the town mayor in Salcombe and chair of the community land trust which is hoping to build 21 affordable, low rent new homes for local people in the very near future.

She said: ‘We are hopeful our eventual full planning application will be successful but even these homes will still not fully address the proven need for affordable family, starter and retirement homes.

‘When I first moved to Salcombe 30 years ago there was plenty of B&B accommodation, hotels of all sizes and families took in paying guests. These days people want their own home away from home instead.

‘Unfortunately this has come at the expense of the family home and the demise of those smaller accommodation providers and a bigger consequence is the ever-increasing property prices.

‘We need people to work in all the shops, hospitality, cleaning, gardening and construction services plus volunteer with our Lifeboat and Fire Service but we are now struggling to fill those roles.

Tourists flock to the seaside town of Salcombe in Devon after the lockdown was eased in August 2020

Tourists flock to the seaside town of Salcombe in Devon after the lockdown was eased in August 2020

‘Coupled with some of the lowest wages in the country alongside very high utility bills, the local residents are effectively locked out of owning, or even renting, a home in the town they grew up in and/or work in.

‘But we in Salcombe need to be very careful as this town has been a high end, second home destination resort since 1764 when probably the first one, The Moult, was built between North Sands and South Sands.

‘Over the last couple of years far too many people have been given notice on their privately rented homes, stating that the properties are needed back for the owners’ own use.

‘Subsequently though those same homes have been either sold, marketed on Airbnb or let on agency websites as holiday accommodation. This has all added unnecessary pressure to our local situation.

‘There is no magic wand but we are all doing what we can and we just hope that the tide can turn and a balance of property types and numbers can be found for Salcombe.’

ROBIN HOOD’S BAY  NORTH YORKSHIRE

  • Population: 1,330 as of 2013 (including 5.7% aged 20-29 and 38% over 60 as of 2011)
  • Average house price : £372,917 over past year (up 8% on 2020; up 25% on 2017 peak of £297,216)
  • Distance from nearest city : 47 miles (from York) – 115 minutes by train/bus or 75 minutes by car 
  • Local attractions : Old Coastguard Station, Old St Stephen’s Church and Boggle Hole 

Furious locals at a Yorkshire fishing village are ‘heartbroken’ as they accuse city-dwelling staycationers of ‘killing’ their community by snapping up ‘all but five’ properties to use as second homes and holiday lets while house prices ‘go through the roof’.

Robin Hood’s Bay, an idyllic seaside spot around six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park, surged in popularity among locked-down Britons who were discouraged from taking foreign holidays during the Covid crisis. 

Most properties have since been gobbled up as second homes or holiday lets by urban outsiders ‘within hours of being listed’, with rocketing prices – in some cases, almost doubling in the past eight years – now preventing many families from getting their foot on the housing ladder.

Angry residents have blasted the ‘absolute nightmare’ trend of staycationers buying local homes, and are now calling for ‘more balance’, warning that those who have lived in Robin Hood’s Bay for decades are seeing the community dwindle.

Robin Hood's Bay is an idyllic seaside spot around six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park

Robin Hood’s Bay is an idyllic seaside spot around six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park

Katie Wallis, of Robin Hood's Bay

Phil Hammill, of Robin Hood's Bay

Katie Wallis (left) and Phil Hammill (right) have described mounting local concern in Robin Hood’s Bay around second homes

Katie Wallis, who works at her boyfriend’s mother’s sweet store, vented she is finding it impossible to find a property for her and her partner.

The frustrated 26-year-old added: ‘The problem is there’s becoming so few locals now there’s hardly enough people to help run the shops and restaurants. I think it’s just at its capacity – there’s too many tourists to locals ratio.

‘Everything’s just gone rocket high. For people like me and my boyfriend – trying to get our first property is ridiculous. Even renting is hard; a flat in Whitby the size of this shop will cost you £600 a month. 

‘It’s hard for me because I want them to come here but at the same time I do want to live here. I think there’s enough holiday cottages and I don’t think you can have more people.’ 

One disgruntled woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said housing issues were ‘killing’ Robin Hood’s Bay.

She said: ‘Everyone who owns a business wants it to be a tourist spot but everyone who doesn’t own a business doesn’t want that. It’s made house prices ridiculous and there’s now no young families and no children.’

Most properties have been gobbled up as second homes or holiday lets by urban outsiders 'within hours of being listed'

Most properties have been gobbled up as second homes or holiday lets by urban outsiders ‘within hours of being listed’ 

The woman, who has lived in the village since the 1960s, said it was a genuine village back then, whereas now it was more like Beamish, a reference to the open museum in County Durham which tells the story of bygone life in northern England.

Adding that there was a division between the locals and those profiting off the tourists, she said: ‘It’s wrong to say because we’re all tourists wherever you go so you’ve got to be accommodating.

‘But if you come again in a few weeks you’ll see how the tourists are parked across everyone’s drive and the ambulances can’t come round. There’s two sides to it.’

She said that the community has changed since she first moved, saying that ‘everybody got on with everybody back then’.

She added: ‘But tourism is the train you can’t stop. It’s beautiful and it’s lovely here and we’re not knocking tourism because a lot of people depends on it but not everyone does. And that’s what’s sad.’

Furious residents of Robin Hood's Bay described the trend as 'an absolute nightmare' and are now calling for 'more balance'

Furious residents of Robin Hood’s Bay described the trend as ‘an absolute nightmare’ and are now calling for ‘more balance’

The woman estimated that the population was now a 70:30 split between holiday homes and villagers.

She said: ‘It’s heartbreaking. I love it otherwise I wouldn’t live here but there’s been a big change in the last two years. If you’re not fast enough you can’t buy a house and if you’re a young couple you won’t earn enough money.

‘How are you going to be able get a mortgage for a £350,000 little three-bedroom house?’. 

Becca Oliver, who was born and raised in the village and works at The Old Drapery clothing store, said she bought her detached three-bedroom house in the top end for £225,000 eight years ago, adding that a nearby bungalow sold recently for £420,000.

‘I think housing’s quite a contentious issue in the village, isn’t it?’, Miss Oliver said. ‘In the last few years I can’t see how local families can afford properties around here because the prices are so high and people from London or wherever can afford it but local people can’t.

Robin Hood's Bay surged in popularity among locked-down Britons discouraged from going abroad during lockdown

Robin Hood’s Bay surged in popularity among locked-down Britons discouraged from going abroad during lockdown

‘It’s pushing people out and it’s worrying in terms of the school and things like that. Are we going to lose those sort of things?

‘It’s finding that balance. I’m not slating holiday makers because we need them and we love having them but it’s about finding that balance for both. We have a great community with lovely people and we don’t want to lost that.’

Asked if she felt the village was achieving that balance currently, she said: ‘No, it’s not quite right.’ 

Phil Hammill, who runs a gift store with his partner Jessica Hogarth, said that the recent change in property ownership had been ‘noticeable’. 

‘There’s been a big shift of holiday homes being bought. A lot of places aren’t even going online or to estate agents and people aren’t even seeing them,’ he said. 

Residents say that in the bottom area of the village it is believed that as few as five properties have long-term occupants.

The top end of the village, which is blighted with parking issues during the busier months, has a greater number of residents, but the problems faced in the village are still keenly felt.  



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