The struggle of guesthouse owners against the rise of AirBnB in Falmouth was laid bare at a meeting of the town council’s planning committee this week.

The owners of the 'rock ‘n’ roll’ themed Chelsea House B&B in Emslie Road, Falmouth, which was recently featured in the Packet, have applied to convert it to residential use as they are unable to sell it as a going concern.

Nigel Sillis and his partner Sharon Retson told the committee that the nine-bedroomed property had been on the market since 2022 with a number of different estate agents but there had been hardly any interest. It is currently on the market for £1.5m.

Nigel, whose career included heading up Vidal Sassoon’s UK business and overseeing Harrods' Urban Retreat Salon in London in 2005 before buying the property in 2016, said they had been told that they were more likely to sell it if it was a private residence.

Falmouth Packet:  The house on Emslie Road is on the market for £1.5m The house on Emslie Road is on the market for £1.5m (Image: Heather and Lay)

He said they’d had one or two viewings but nobody had made an offer and the current agent they were with had dropped the price significantly and they still had no interest in the property.

“We’d like to sell it as a residential property,” he said. “It is big but we are led to believe that there is a market for a property of this type, especially if you’ve got an extended family.”

He said they’d both like to be able retire but if they couldn’t sell the house, they couldn’t.

“Unfortunately our bookings have decreased over the past few years and think lot of it is to do with the changing market and ultimately the rise in the number of AirBnBs that are around,” he said.

Committee chairman Cllr Steve Eva said: “Here we go again, it is one of those where we are losing guest houses that are no longer required. Just the way it goes at the moment.”

He told committee that The Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) response had been that while the application contravened the NDP protecting guesthouses from being converted into homes, the reality may dictate that upholding this policy in all cases would not be realistic.

Cllr Debra Clegg said: “Times change. There is no call now for that type of accommodation and we can’t force people to stay there.”

Cllr Alan Jewell said he’d also seen a drop in demand at his campsite near Maenporth.

“It would be breaching that policy but the market is changing,” he said. “People have got more AirBnB’s, money’s tight and things have dropped off. It’s a shame they have this millstone around their neck.”

Cllr John Spargo reminded councillors that the council had fought very hard against a previous application to convert another guest house nearby.

However, councillors voted unanimously to recommend approval of the change of use.

“Time’s change, the town’s changed,” said Cllr Eva.