UK

CPRE says second homes 'gutting' rural communities

  • 30 March 2013
  • From the section UK
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A rural community
Sir Andrew Motion says some rural communities suffer because of second homes owned by 'townies'

The tax system should put countryside second homes beyond the reach of more people, according to the head of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Ex-poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion said "townies in the countryside" were "gutting" rural communities.

The CPRE president did not call for a ban on second home ownership, but told the Times he would make them "very expensive" through more taxes.

More than 165,000 people own weekend or holiday homes, the last census found.

The Times reports that Cornwall is the location of 23,000 of such homes.

'Scoot down in cars'

Sir Andrew said: "I think there's a question about whether second homes mean you have inert dormitory communities in the countryside through most of the week, very often lived in by people who scoot down in their cars, see their smart friends, don't join in the life of the community and don't feed into it.

"They're townies in the countryside, they make sure they're back in London in time to catch the 10 o'clock news on Sunday night. That means rural communities are gutted."

A row broke out recently over the Help to Buy initiative announced in the Budget, aimed at helping people get on the housing ladder.

Under the scheme, due to start next January, loans for those putting down 5% deposits would be guaranteed, but Labour critics said there was nothing to stop people using it to buy second homes.

The Treasury says this is not the point of the scheme but parents may be allowed to buy homes for their children when it is finalised.

Greenfield concerns

Campaigners have previously accused the government of creating a developers' charter in rural areas ahead of its Growth and Infrastructure Bill being debated in the Commons.

Ministers say the bill is needed to stimulate development but there are fears that it will rush through greenfield schemes for business and housing against the wishes of people living nearby.

The bill will relax rules on developers to deliver social housing, and make it easier to install broadband infrastructure.

The CPRE says the plans will spoil some of the UK's best-loved landscapes and it has warned of a rash of "broadband clutter" in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

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