1 in 8 Homes in Porthleven Are Not Lived In

It is not often a few days goes by without hearing Cornwall is full of second homes. It is a hot topic in Porthleven too. But, how much of the rumours are true. How many houses in Porthleven are in full time occupation, part time, or holiday lets?

The total housing stock in Porthleven which are banded for council tax is 1,692. This information was kindly supplied by Cornwall Council (a big thank you). The types and number of second home and holiday lets in Porthleven are:
  • 153 council tax discount (second home)
  • 66 holiday lets
In percentage terms this equates to 9% of houses which are 2nd homes. If you include holiday lets the percent of housing  in Porthleven is 13% that is not in full time occupation. Compare this with other similar towns to Porthleven like Looe (2,923 banded houses) and Padstow (1,831 Banded houses).
Looe:

  • 121 holiday lets 
  • 322 council tax discount

Percentage of second homes 11% and total not in full time occupation 15% of housing stock

    Padstow:
    • 379 holiday lets
    • 519 council tax discount

    Percentage of second homes 23% and total not in full time occupation 49% (!!) of housing stock

    Now, holiday lets do play an important part to a town’s economy with visitor spend and employment. Trades people also get work from lets. So it is not all doom and gloom with holiday lets. They are an important part of a tourist town’s fragile economy. However, better planning rules could be in place to make sure the balance is just right.

    Lets now take 2nd homes. Porthleven has 153 of them that apply for the 10% discount on council tax. It is worth noting that the figure of second homes could be higher if a owner chooses to pay the full council tax. Unlike holiday lets which are run as a business, second homes are not. These are generally used for the benefit of the owners. As when not in use, lay empty for large parts of the year.

    A huge problem with second homes is to the housing stock. With less rental leads to higher prices being demanded. An average rent for a 2/3 bed property is over £600 a month.This is unaffordable to many people. It also has an affect on house prices if a house is in a desirable location, or seen as an investment opportunity. The sale price of the average house in Porthleven is around £180,000; again unaffordable for many due to low wage, bank reluctance to lend, or can’t save up a big enough deposit.

    Imagine if only half of these 153 properties were available for long term affordable rent. It would go a long way to solve the housing problems in Porthleven. It would also mean you would not have to extend the town planning boundaries so much to meet the housing need. This can only be good for a community.

    The Government is planning to allow all local authorities not to apply a discount on council tax. Currently it is law, and a local authority can offer anything between 50% and 10%. Cornwall Council only allows a 10% discount. Now if the discount stopped, how would we know how many houses not in full time occupation? The real danger is the number of second homes would be unmonitored and you would not know how many there are. Therefore, if the discount is stopped there must be some other way of keeping a record on the number of second homes.

    I am not totally against second homes, but (and it is a very big but) you have to have some sort of balance between second homes and full time use. This balance must also be backed up by legislation that is enforceable to limit the number of second homes.  Or else you end up with at least 49% of housing stock like in Padstow not in full time occupation.

    7 comments

    • Gill Martin

      If enforcement was made that second home owners could not vote in the constituency that their non main residence was in, then could you not keep a record of which were second homes by an amendment of the register of electors list.

    • Anonymous

      Quality work Cllr Wallis. It is good to have the figure laid bare

    • Anonymous

      Policies and legislation to control the spread of second homes in areas which are disproportionately saturated with them should have been put in place long ago. It's still not too late. Properties occupied for 2-3 months do nothing to contribute to communities nor the local economy and that is in addition to the housing issues which you so rightly highlight.

    • Anonymous

      We should be very careful to differentiate between holiday lets and second homes.

      Most holiday homes (i.e. holiday rentals) are occupied for about 7-8 months per year but contribute enourmously to the welfare of Cornwall and the UK coffers.

      A typical holiday property will have a revenue of about £15K of which about 35% will go to pay admin (marketing, cleaning, welcome packs, plumbers, other handymen…). This does not include council tax, rates, mortgages….

      People who stay in them typicaly eat out most evenings, keeping the pubs and restaurants in business and obviously paying wages to tose working in the stores. They also spend money in the local shops.

      It would be nice if they were occupied for more than 7-8 months but we just do not have the climate down here.

      Cornwalls main industry is tourism, in time of austerity we should be doing more to encourage it.

      Second homes though….

    • Cllr Andrew Wallis

      Last Anon,

      Yes I agree with you. They are two issues that should be taken in apart (and I did), but they are often lumped together

    • Anonymous

      While tourism and the money it brings to the area is incredibly important, we must remember that some of the magic that brings the tourists to our fine village is the actual community that lives in it and keeps it alive all year round. Without these people, the village will just become a theme park resort, concreted and sold off to the highest bidder (a dream the likes of Mr Osborne would love to see, and love to profit greatly from!)

      This is why both second homes AND holiday lets should be controlled better than currently. Personally I would like to see laws that hold both to about 50% of the total housing stock – unfortunately there is far too much profit to be made by far too few people by continuing the trend of holiday and second homes within Cornwall as a whole. I doubt I'll ever see controls on this sort of conversion, or increases in taxes on them in my lifetime. Especially as many Westminster MPs themselves would have to pay more for their own second homes. I can only see with the new planning laws in the pipeline it'll actually become EASIER for our fine village, and some of the beautiful areas surrounding it to be sold off to the highest bidder to be turned into luxury beachside resorts.

      Unfortunately both second homes and holiday lets contribute to the considerable increasing in housing value – driving normal patrons out due to increased unaffordability. I note there have a few VERY SMALL areas of low cost housing built recently. They are insignificant to the numbers of properties that, as you say in your recent post – lie empty for large amounts of time. Perhaps we are concentrating too much on the short term profits we can make from the tourists too much, and not enough on the future of our fine village.

      I must say, that every time I walk home from a walk around the amazing loe bar, I feel sad. Sad that I see less of the people living in the houses along loe bar road, and cliff road and the surrouding area. I count the increasing numbers of properties with holiday let signs in their windows and more-so the ones that have been replaced by glass fronted tourist friendly monstrosities. I feel sad enough that I feel I must leave the village itself, leave it before it's Majesty and beauty is packaged up and sold on…

    • Anonymous

      Is your final para serious, majesty and beauty..lol…what a load of pompous nonsense,people dont live on cliff road etc because local people coulnt stand living there,(by the way,who sold all the houses in the first place?)I presume you have never lived in such an exposed area during the winter,they are only suitable for holiday lets,plenty of affordable homes have been built,just because you come from Porthleven doeasnt mean you are entitled to a sea view,why do people assume they have some god given right to live somewhere,work a bit and then see what you can afford,moaning and whining achieves nothing,as far as Im aware we dont live in a communist state,so control of the housing market is a non starter,sadly some people just are richer,its a fact of life,get over it.

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