Council calls for action on second homes

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A call has been made for top-level action to help ease the problems surrounding the lack of available affordable housing on Arran in response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the short-term lets industry.

In its official response to the consultation, North Ayrshire Council has said the proliferation of short-term lets and second home ownership is causing major issues for islanders, with the loss of residential housing leading to lack of availability and choice, higher rents and higher house prices.

Analysis carried out in 2017 by Arran Economic Group showed that Arran is second only to London in terms of difficulty in accessing affordable housing in the UK.

Data showed that there are approximately 2,100 households on Arran, yet only about 16 per cent – 342 – are social housing properties, primarily operated by Trust Housing Association. The majority of properties on the island are privately owned with 22 per cent of these classed as second homes.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, cabinet member for place, said the significant growth in the short-term lets market – homes which are increasingly booked via online platforms – was causing particular problems for areas such as Arran where workers have real difficulty finding affordable housing.

He said: ‘As part of our response to the consultation by the Scottish Government, we have called for a regulatory framework that ensures local authorities have the appropriate powers to ensure that growth of short term letting is managed, sustainable, and does not lead to a loss of affordable housing options.

‘We know that second homes have an inflationary effect on housing markets, and this effect has been magnified on Arran where increasing access to affordable housing is particularly challenging because of land availability, land values, and high construction costs.

‘We are preparing to begin construction of 34 new council homes on the island and while this new development won’t eliminate the problem, it will be an important step towards addressing the issue.

‘We hope to see a new framework developed which will allow greater control over how short-term lets are managed. Such levers would allow us to harness the opportunities that this sector can offer whilst at the same time mitigating against risks that could undermine our economic base and the fabric of our rural communities.’