A second home ban in the tourist hotspot of St Ives has backfired according to a new study - and priced locals out of the market.

Residents in the Cornish coastal town voted three years ago to ban the sale of new houses as second homes.

It was hoped that this would make housing more affordable for local people who were being priced out of the market by wealthy summer-dwellers.

But a fresh report has claimed the reality of the ban has had an opposite impact - and has made the situation worse.

The study by the London School of Economics argued the bans have been damaging to the local construction and tourism industries.

It is claimed it has caused the pool of available homes to shrink as house builders walked away - leading to even higher prices.

And with the demand for second homes remaining sky high, the ban has just moved focus away from new builds onto the limited stock of existing primary residences.

Professor Christian Hilber, who led the study, said: "In St Ives, where primary homes can easily be converted into second homes, demand has switched from new-build to existing homes and, possibly, to other nearby towns.

"This has led to an increase in the price of existing homes as summer dwellers are competing for existing homes with local residents."

He said he believes the ban could increase the 'ghost town effect' and be detrimental to local people.

He added: "Tourist towns face a fundamental trade-off. They can restrict second home investors, with possibly positive effects on amenities and affordability.

"But this always comes at the cost of a significant adverse effect on the local economy. Any policy that succeeds in keeping second home investors away will hurt the local economy, mainly the tourism and construction sectors."

He believes a better option would be a local annual tax on the value of a second home.

He says this could generate revenue for the local authority which could then be used to provide or improve services.

In addition, a tax that has to be paid each year, might discourage people buying property for investment purposes.

Professor Hilber believes this could help with the affordability of existing homes while encouraging owners to actually occupy their property.

He said: "A ban does not generate any revenue, merely shifts demand from new-build to existing homes, thereby reducing the share of permanent residents further and making existing housing stock even less affordable.

"It does not discourage buying property for pure investment motives and does not reduce mostly vacant homes; rather, in the long run, a ban can be expected to increase the share of such homes."

Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall councillor for St Ives West and Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for homes, said the issue of high housing prices had been going on for 30 years and insisted he had not encountered anyone in the town complaining of being priced out as a result of the ban.

He said: "I think it is too early to tell and we need three, four or even five more years before we can say whether the ban has made things worse.

"I don't think we have had enough large-scale developments in the towns for anyone to point the finger at the second homes ban as a good or bad thing."

Councillor Mitchell believes a fall in house prices will happen in the coming years which could be beneficial to first-time house buyers.

However, while not agreeing with the findings of the study, he welcomed the idea of imposing an annual tax on second homes.

He added: "I would welcome a tax on second homes but, in this country, we are not legally allowed to do that even though it skews local communities. As for tourism, I think what could be more damaging to tourism is more tourism."