Call to levy second homes to fund affordable housing

Some of the finished houses in the new Brathwic Terrace council house development in Brodick.

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An Arran housing trust has called for levies on empty and second homes in order to build more affordable houses for island residents.

Arran Development Trust (ADT) said it ’empathised entirely’ with the Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby which has just voted to limit the sale of second homes, which, while not legally binding, is hoping will send a message to council planners that ‘enough is enough’.

The story was picked up in Scotland by the Sunday National which asked the ADT for their views.

In a statement ADT said: ‘Whilst the Arran Development Trust empathise entirely with the community in Whitby, we recognise the growing trend for second/holiday homes, pricing local residents out of the market and the resultant detrimental effect on local services.

‘The ADT also recognises the second home/holiday home market is important to tourism areas and as such the ADT would rather support a less divisive approach, by advocating and introducing a financial contributory second/holiday home owners’ fund specifically raised primarily through rates levies on empty and second homes with the funds raised being spent in the specific area contributing.

‘For example; Arran has 40 per cent of North Ayrshire Council second and empty homes,  therefore Arran should receive 40 per cent of the fund to spend on increasing the number of affordable homes on Arran.  Therefore additional, substantial area specific revenue would provide affordable homes for current full-time residents and contribute financially and directly into the local economy, easing the ‘them and us’ culture which is appearing across the Scottish islands and rural areas.’

Whitby follows St Ives, Fowey and Mevagissey in Cornwall in voting to limit sales of new-builds to full-time residents and the Welsh government recently increased the
maximum level of council tax on second homes to 300 per cent over concerns that tourist spots such as Gwynedd and Anglesey were being swamped by holiday lets.

It is also tightening rules on self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates rather than council tax.