Number of second homes in decline across Falmouth and Penryn - the figures in full (From Falmouth Packet)
Number of second homes in decline across Falmouth and Penryn - the figures in full
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DESPITE fears that homes for Falmouth and Penryn families are being lost to holiday lets, so-called "second homes" pose only half the threat of student housing, the Packet can reveal.
Last month we brought you what has been described as a “startling statistic” – that around one in ten Falmouth homes no longer pays council tax because they are solely occupied by students.
We showed how the growth of Tremough University Campus over the past decade has been reflected in an ever increasing pressure on private housing being converted into student flats.
In Penryn, for example, the number of non-council tax-paying student homes has skyrocketed 653 per cent from just 34 in 1999 to 222 last year.
The response from our readers has varied from shocked to unsurprised, but one – Nigel Sellwood – wrote to the Packet claiming our article “did not address the real cause of housing problems in the area.”
The “real cause,” he said, is the “the high percentage” of “so-called second homes,” which he says detract from the community as “second house owners” bring so little to our lives.
Cornwall, as a whole, has the largest concentration of second homes in Britain with an estimated 14,000 properties.
Since last year, Cornwall Council has taken steps to prevent second home owners from voting in elections, by checking the electoral register against its database of people who are eligible for a ten per cent “second home” council tax discount.
Using this data, gleaned from the council through a Freedom of Information request, the Packet decided to look into Mr Sellwood’s claims that a high percentage of properties in our area were classed as second homes.
The figures reveal that 512 houses in Falmouth now receive a ten per cent discount on their council tax and are classed as second homes - Or approximately one in 20 properties (5 per cent), which is less than the county average.
This percentage has fallen from a high point in 2007, pre-recession, when 6.4 per cent of all Falmouth dwellings were second homes.
In Penryn, meanwhile, the figure for 2007 was 3.6 per cent, falling to just over two per cent this year.
Other parts of the county have a far greater proportion of second homes - with one in every eight Porthleven properties reportedly being holiday homes while in Portwrinkle, in the far south east of Cornwall, more than 60 per cent are holiday lets.
A specialist's view
Scott Fairhurst is the managing director of Perfect Example property management services, which has recently expanded into Falmouth and the surrounding area. He said second homes can often benefit the local economy by employing tradespeople for construction and maintenance while making use of shops and service companies nearby.
“In addition to this, a high proportion of these homes are used for holiday lettings,” he said, “which aids tourism and this clearly has significant employment and many local economy benefits.
“We also find that many second home owners only want to work with local people and local companies.”
Mr Fairhurst added that “whilst there are many positive benefits to second homes within beautiful counties likes ours,” a long-term structured and managed balance is required “between the numbers
of second homes and the prices/supply of housing for local people.”
For the Packet 's original story on the rise of student housing - "Changing towns: Falmouth and Penryn's housing crisis" - click here.