Cyflwynwyd gan:Cllr. Dyfirg Siencyn
To agree the Council's response to the report "Second Homes - Developing New Policies in Wales" as set out in part 9 of this report and in particular highlighting the need to modify recommendation number 7 - Short-term Holiday Accommodation and Business Rates.
The Leader agreed to formally communicate the response to the Welsh Government and call on them to adopt and implement the most effective recommendations as a matter of urgency in order to respond to the housing crisis facing the communities of Gwynedd.
The report was submitted by Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn.
To agree the Council's response to the report "Second Homes - Developing New Policies in Wales" as set out in section 9 of this report and in particular highlighting the need to modify recommendation number 7 - Short-term Holiday Accommodation and Business Rates.
The Leader agreed to formally communicate the response to the Welsh Government and call on it to adopt and implement the most effective recommendations as a matter of urgency in order to respond to the housing crisis facing the communities of Gwynedd.
The report was submitted noting that a need to respond to the "Second Homes - Developing New Policies in Wales" report by Dr Simon Brooks, which had been commissioned by Welsh Government and Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. It was expressed that Dr Brooks had contacted the Council and that a number of recommendations had come from a report submitted by the Environment Department to the Cabinet back in December.
It was explained that there were twelve recommendations in the report and the Council needed to respond to the report. It was highlighted that the Council only disagreed with one of the recommendations, namely recommendation 7 - Short-term Holiday Accommodation and Business Rates. The need for every dwelling to be counted as a dwelling was stated and that they should be forced to pay Council tax and any premium that coincided with that dwelling. It was noted that the report was commendable and important and the desire to send a message to the Government with the Council's response to the report.
The Chief Executive added that the report drew on many sources and that it was crucial that the Council should respond as the second homes problem was at its worst in Gwynedd. The steps the Council had already taken to tackle the problem were highlighted including adopting the New Allocation Policy so that it prioritised local people, charged the Council Tax Premium on second homes and invested the additional funding in the Housing Action Plan. It was emphasised that the Council was doing everything within its powers regarding the situation and had also specifically commissioned work to look into the problem. There was support for Dr Simon Brooks' report and it was emphasised that a number of the recommendations by the Council in the commission work had been included in the report.
It was explained that to make the biggest difference there was a need to concentrate on the recommendations that would make a difference and three recommendations were highlighted. The first was Recommendation 7, as it had been highlighted as one of the main problems for residents that second homes did not have to pay Council tax by moving to small business rates. The need to prevent this from happening was emphasised so that they contributed to the Council and also the premium could prevent others from purchasing a second home. The second priority was to ensure there was a specific use class to change a home from a dwelling to a second home that would also require planning permission. And the third, that in order obtain evidence for the planning applications that a licensing scheme for holiday homes was needed to be able to monitor the numbers within communities and then to refuse planning applications in communities where the numbers were high. It was explained that unless these recommendations were adopted, it would not be possible to tackle the problem.
Observations arising from the discussion
¾ It was noted that the Council was in a housing emergency, and the Council was looking after Gwynedd residents on a daily basis. It was emphasised that during this last extraordinary year the Council had continued to look after residents and had continued to perform especially well. It was explained that over the last two years the Council had done everything within its grasp to solve the problem but that the Council did not have the power to genuinely tackle the problems. It was expressed that this problem was not a new problem and that the Westminster Government had been aware of it since the 1970s, and although Housing had been devolved to Wales, so far the only thing they had done was this report. It was emphasised that the report contained all the answers but that it was now time for the Government to act.
¾ It was noted that Welsh Government had compiled reports twenty years ago but had not implemented the recommendations. Back in December, it had been expressed that the report was crying out for the Welsh Government to act. It was explained that their latest report was also a call for action.
¾ It was emphasised that there was a need to act as there were concerns about where people were going to live today, let alone where the children of the county would be living. It was explained that there were cases everyday which highlighted the housing crisis that was emerging across Gwynedd.
¾ It was explained that this was not a new problem and it was asked why the Welsh Government had not done something sooner. It was raised that the report highlighted too many recommendations and that it was possible that the Government might select one that was easy to implement, meaning that it would not make a difference.
¾ The report was welcomed emphasising that the time for reports had ended and that it was now time to act. Organisations were called to work with Gwynedd Council to convey the message to the Government.
¾ It was highlighted that there were second homes in every ward in the county and that the problem was now spreading from the traditional areas to the underprivileged areas.
¾ It was emphasised that there was a need to be clear that paying Council tax was crucial. It was explained that charging the premium had highlighted that the Council was doing what it could.