Neighbourhood development plans used to limit the building of second homes

Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) enable local people to have their say on the development of their area, including where houses, schools and businesses should be built, how they should look and what infrastructure needs to be in place in order to support the development.

Communities around the country are reaping the rewards of adopting a NDP, as planning applications are influenced by strong local opinion. In the majority of referenda, local turnout has been over 80%.

In the Cornish coastal resort of St Ives, second homes and holiday lets make up over 25% of the housing stock. The high proportion of second homes in the area, with a shortage of development land and relatively low wages, has inflated prices and caused the dispersal of the local community. People born and raised in St Ives have found they cannot afford to live there.

Last year, St Ives residents turned out to strongly support the St Ives NDP by referendum, and successfully banned the building of second homes in the town for use as second homes. The St Ives NDP had already been significantly modified by the referendum stage, but stipulated that new open market housing would be considered only if subject to the planning condition that occupation would be for a minimum of 270 days each year.

A judicial review over the decision was lodged by a local Penzance architectural practice, which challenged the decision by Cornwall Council to allow the St Ives NDP to go to referendum. The firm argued that the policy did not support the town’s two main industries of tourism and construction. It questioned the inclusion of policies on future housing provision and residency requirements, which it said contravened Human Rights and European law. Cornwall Council’s decision was upheld by the High Court in November 2016, and the NDP was deemed lawful.

Two further areas of Cornwall, Roseland and Lyn, have now followed the St Ives’ initiative and, following similar strong support in referenda, adopted NDPs that seek to limit the number of second homes. The Roseland NDP ensures that planning permission can only be granted for new build property if it is for ‘affordable housing’, although this runs contrary to the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework. Lyn’s NDP showed a different approach, and a restriction to ‘ensure occupation as a principle residence’ was successful.

Also in Cornwall, the Rame Peninsula NDP limits new homes on the open market to those with a condition restricting occupancy to principle residence. St Miniver’s NDP dictates that new dwellings must be for permanent occupation and half must be affordable.

Elsewhere in England, 130 homes planned for farmland near Buckingham were refused in July by the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, when ‘very substantial’ weight was attached to the adopted NDP, despite the planning inspector’s recommendation.

Last year, the Loxwood Parish district of West Sussex defeated a judicial review when its decision to omit the building of 25 new homes from the LDP was upheld.

The town of Keswick in Cumbria used its NDP to ensure that new properties are sold to a person employed locally or who has lived there for a minimum of three years. Thirty per cent of Keswick’s properties are second homes.

The sites below offer more information on Neighbourhood Development Plans, or talk to your local chartered building surveyor for independent advice on planning matters.