Whitby and Filey at "tipping point" as second homes and holiday lets price locals out of area

There are warnings that North Yorkshire’s coastal towns are at a “tipping point” as second homes and holiday lets price locals out of their area.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 9:56 am

Towns including Whitby and Filey have seen some of the largest increases with around 20% of all properties now being abandoned as second homes for most of the year, leaving a trail of struggling businesses in their wake.

There are some 1,680 of these properties in Whitby alone – a figure which has more than doubled over the last decade.

And there are warnings that this demand is driving up property prices to the point where they become unaffordable for locals, many of whom work in low-income jobs in the service industry.

The number of second homes and holiday lets in Whitby has doubled in the past 10 years.

Conservative councillor Phil Trumper, who represents the Esk Valley ward on Scarborough Borough Council, told a meeting on Thursday: “Places like Church Street and other areas in Whitby are being taken up for second homes and holiday lets.

“Thirty years ago you could buy down there for relatively reasonable prices.

“But we’re now looking at a situation where one property came on the market about five months ago for £450,000 for a two-bedroom semi-detached house with no parking.

“We’re already at a tipping point and something needs to be done.

Around 20% of homes in Filey are now second homes or holiday lets.

“If it isn’t done, Whitby will turn into a town with no community and where people can’t afford to live.”

Scarborough Borough Council has spent the past 18 months researching the problem and will look at how it could be addressed as part of a review of its Local Plan.

This comes as the council’s opposition Conservative group has made calls for a ban on the sale of new houses to second home buyers in a move which it said will keep prices affordable and give locals greater priority.

However, concerns have been raised that this could put new affordable housing at risk and heap further pressure on the existing housing market.

Steve Wilson, planning policy and conservation manager at the council, told Thursday’s meeting: “If you bring in a policy there is certainly going to be a small impact – maybe 5% – on the value of properties.

"That has been shown in other areas in the country.

“But I don’t think a 5% reduction is going to make house prices affordable to local people.

“At the same time, you are potentially going to lose out on a lot of affordable housing that is there directly for local people.”

Mr Wilson said the “most practical way” to tackle the problem would be for the government to change legislation which determines how all properties can be used.

Under the Town and Country Planning Order 1987, planning permission is not currently required to change a home into a second home or holiday let.

But the council believes a requirement for people to apply for such permission would give greater control over where second homes and holiday lets are allowed.

Elsewhere in the country, a ban on the sale of new houses as non-primary residences has been introduced in St Ives, Cornwall, although it has been claimed that the policy has backfired by causing damage to the local construction and tourism industries.

Closer to North Yorkshire, Northumberland County Council is introducing a policy in its Local Plan to restrict second homes.

This will be limited to areas where the proportion of second homes and holiday lets exceeds 20%.

At Thursday’s Scarborough Borough Council meeting, it was agreed that the authority will write to the area’s MPs highlighting the issue ahead of the next stage of its Local Plan review.