Residents in St Ives on the Cornish coast voted by a huge margin to ban outsiders from buying newbuild properties in the area as second homes. The picturesque town has seen a wave of outsiders buying up second homes in the area, hiking house prices so much that locals say they are being priced out of the market.
The referendum on 5 May saw 83.2% of voters who turned out backing a proposal that new private developments for the market will only secure planning permission from the council if the properties to be built are for people to live in full-time, not as holiday homes. There was a 42.7% turnout, or 3,696 people. The policy was part of a broader neighbourhood development plan for St Ives, which has now been endorsed by residents.
According to Rightmove, the average house price in St Ives is £324,501, compared to £242,704 for the whole of Cornwall and £307,033 for England. But many St Ives locals are on low incomes, relying on the seasonal tourist industry for work. Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show the median weekly wage for a full-time worker in Cornwall is £443.20. For England, this figure is £532.60.
As of 2011, a quarter of all homes in St Ives had nobody living in them permanently, a 67% increase over the decade, said the local council. The St Ives neighbourhood plan said its second home-buyer ban is needed "to meet the housing needs of local people, bring greater balance and mixture to the local housing market and create new opportunities for people to live and work here, to strengthen our community and the local economy".
Other popular towns and villages for second home-buyers may soon follow suit. But critics say the move will lead to fewer new homes being built in the area, which risks driving house prices up further by creating a shortage of supply. Investors will still be able to buy from the existing stock of housing.