Cornwall Council has published a detailed plan setting out how it aims to tackle the housing crisis currently affecting people all over Cornwall.

With house prices at an all-time high, demand for properties coming from all over the country and a lack of properties available to rent and buy, it has been accepted that there is currently a crisis which needs to be addressed.

The average house price in Cornwall was recorded as being £275,677 in July – the highest it has ever been. It is an increase of 17.7% since July 2020 and has even risen by 3.2% since May 2021.

Average house prices in Cornwall are now higher than the national average (£265,668) but average wages are lower than 80% of the national average. It has been noted that in the Isles of Scilly the disparity is even greater.

Cornwall Council states: “There is some evidence that this rise is in part driven by increased demand from households seeking to relocate to the area and by investor purchases but also reflects limited availability with transactions only just beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels.”

There is a similar picture in the rental market with rents rising by 15% in the last year. Around a fifth of households in Cornwall are in privately rented accommodation.

Cornwall Council states: “While much of this accommodation is decent and well-managed, issues of poor condition and low energy efficiency (and higher fuel costs) are more prevalent than in other tenures and tenants have limited security.”

However the council says there is concern about a “sharp reduction in properties available to let”.


The council says that there is evidence “of some landlords moving out of the normal private rented sector either by selling their properties into the buoyant home ownership market or by switching them to short-term holiday lets”.

It adds: “The lack of available, and affordable, private rented homes has created significant difficulties for residents who need to quickly access accommodation and for those unable to afford home ownership and who do not have sufficient priority to secure affordable housing.

“This is also causing significant issues for employers and businesses in recruiting and retaining staff in a tight labour market including in the vital health and social care sectors.”

The council also identifies that there is a lack of affordable housing available and that the number of people registering to bid for affordable housing has increased “significantly” in the last year.

An increasing number of families in Cornwall are being threatened with homelessness as they face losing their privately rented homes and with limited opportunities to find alternative housing.

To try to address the various issues Cornwall Council has published a new plan – called Securing a Home for All. The overall aim of the plan is: “Cornwall’s housing market and provision enables residents to secure a suitable home that they can afford.”

It sets out a number of objectives and provides details of existing schemes and new programmes being set up to help provide help.

The first objective is: “To work towards ending homelessness and rough sleeping”. There is currently high demand for emergency and temporary accommodation in Cornwall.


Cornwall Council is leading on a temporary accommodation recovery and reform programme which includes interventions to prevent homelessness; to enable people in accommodation to move on to settled housing and to increase access to quality temporary accommodation.

Added to this is an existing £39m programme to acquire good quality, medium-term temporary accommodation across the key demand areas in Cornwall.

The council is also set to use a tenancy sustainment and rescue scheme to address the risks of homelessness in the private rented sector to provide financial support and to mediate and negotiate with landlords so that people can remain in their homes.

Bunkabins have temporarily been installed at County Hall to tackle the housing crisis

'Bunkabins' have temporarily been installed at County Hall to tackle the housing crisis

A rough sleeping reduction plan has also been agreed with the government to reduce rough sleeping numbers to 15 or below in the next year. As part of this new initiatives and accommodation are being provided including a new rough sleeper assessment centre which is due to open in Truro in the new year.

The second objective is: “To improve availability and access to homes for local residents”. This aims to improve access to homes as well as making the best use of existing housing stock to meet the needs of local residents.

A modular keyworker housing programme has been proposed to provide rental properties across Cornwall’s main towns for keyworkers and other local residents.


This will bring together Cornwall Council with public sector partners including the NHS, as well as other local employers to find sites which can be used for this housing. The council expects 50 units to be open within a year and rising to 100 units a year.

The council also plans to address long-term empty properties and bring them back into use with more than 2,200 such properties in Cornwall.

And there are plans to clampdown on ex-council houses being used for holiday lets and students lets, against covenants which have been placed on them to ensure they are used as primary homes.

The council would also like to try and address rented affordable accommodation which is under-occupied so that larger homes can be released to meet local need. A scheme to encourage people to downsize from under-occupied properties could help with this.

Cornwall Council is also asking the Government to allow it to be a pilot area to develop and test models to incentivise private landlords to make their properties available to meet local housing need through improved financial/tax incentives.

The council also wants to address the high numbers of second and holiday homes in Cornwall which are putting pressure on the housing market. It is asking the Government to allow for a new class for second and holiday homes under planning rules which would require a change of use application in which the number of existing holiday/second homes in the area could be a material consideration.

Secondly the council is seeking to charge a council tax premium on second homes and use any money generated to provide affordable housing. It is estimated that this could raise around £20m a year.

There are fewer houses to rent in Cornwall Picture: Getty Images

There are fewer houses to rent in Cornwall Picture: Getty Images

The third objective in the plan is: “A step-change in the supply of affordable homes”.

This aims to “accelerate” the number of affordable homes being built and provided in Cornwall.

The council is looking to secure new sites which can be used to provide affordable homes and is also looking to reach agreements with developers for the advance purchase of homes which can be used as affordable housing.

One example cited is a contract for 130 new homes in the first phase of the West Carclaze Garden Village – 100 of which were previously set for open market sale. This programme is planned to “significantly expand”.

The council also says that plans to provide 750 extra care homes across Cornwall have been held back by a lack of suitable sites in a number of key towns. It says it is working on finding sites with public sector partners to build the new homes.

There are also proposals that when developments are proposed on rural exception sites they should be 100% affordable homes to buy and/or rent. The council is also looking to increase the number of community-led housing developments to provide more affordable homes.

The last objective is: “Accelerating the supply of new homes across Cornwall”.

This sets out that Cornwall is on track to meet and exceed house building targets included in the Cornwall Local Plan which runs to 2030 with 29,300 homes completed since 2010.

However it is also noted that there are more than 27,000 homes with existing planning permission in Cornwall with work yet to start on 24,000 of them.


The council says that while not all have “stalled” there could be cases where the need to fund infrastructure on site could be “an impediment”. It suggests that government funding streams might help to “unlock delivery” on some of those sites.

It is also acting as the main developer for Langarth Garden Village which will provide up to 4,000 new homes. Land has been acquired for 1,200 of the homes and a new planning consent is “expected to be secured” next year. The council says that work has been done to increase the number of affordable housing on the site.

Responsibility for the Securing A Home for All will sit with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Strategic Housing Group and reports will be provided to the council’s Cabinet and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board which brings together public actor organisations and politicians from across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

A housing crisis response plan will be developed by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet and will also be considered by the council’s overview and scrutiny committee before being agreed.