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Revealed: The Suffolk communities dominated by second homes

PUBLISHED: 06:01 12 March 2016

A summer day in the seaside village of Walberswick

A summer day in the seaside village of Walberswick

New figures show second homes account for 40% of all houses in some coastal communities.

Graphic showing the parishes in Suffolk where the proportion of second homes is highestGraphic showing the parishes in Suffolk where the proportion of second homes is highest

Parts of Suffolk’s coast are feared to be losing their identity amid a proliferation of second homes, which now account for more than a third of residences in some communities.

New statistics show that while figures for second homes have fallen nationally, the numbers along the region’s coastline continue to grow, prompting concerns about the effect on property prices, infrastructure and social cohesion.

Nearly one in 20 dwellings throughout Suffolk Coastal were recorded as second homes in 2015 – a higher ratio than 94% of English districts, including holiday destinations such as the Cotswolds, Peak District and Devon.

Waveney, Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Tendring also have above average concentrations, while the number of second homes in Forest Heath has continued to grow in spite of national trends.

Suffolk County Council’s deputy leader Christopher Hudson said the latest figures were “very disturbing” and warned increased property prices could lead to “bitterness and resentment” in affected communities.

“I believe that houses should be lived in,” he said.

“And when you have developers concreting over greenfield sites, you have to question how sensible it is for so many of these new homes to be left empty for so much of the time.”

While second homes can be found throughout the region, council figures show they are most prevalent in coastal parishes, with the highest concentration found in Walberswick, where they account for 40% of all dwellings.

Luke Jeans, whose family has lived in the village for three generations, said he had never known it so bad.

SouthwoldSouthwold

“For the first time in my life I’ve questioned whether I really want to live here,” he added.

“I think unfortunately, it’s got to the point of no return.”

Mr Jeans, an Emmy-winning film-maker in his 60s, said he had no problem with the many second home owners who contribute to the community and helped keep the village alive. However over the past five years, he said people had been buying property as an investment, not contributing to the village and yet trying to interfere in its business, upsetting the balance that has existed for many generations.

More than a third of the dwellings in Southwold, Aldringham, Bawdsey, and Dunwich, are second homes. Frinton is also known for its high numbers.

Former Southwold mayor Simon Tobin said fewer properties were now occupied all year round, because so many were holiday lets or second homes.

While he acknowledged the economic contribution visitors provided the economy, Mr Tobin also warned of the impact on younger people.

“It can break the dynamic of a community,” he said.

“For a young person on standard wages it is literally impossible to live in a town like this, which is why it’s critical for councils to look at increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

In Aldeburgh, which has more second homes than any other parish in Suffolk, long-term residents say any further increase would see the town suffer the same effects as Southwold. They have already warned of the impact on services, such as the doctors’ practice.

AldeburghAldeburgh

“I think we’ve reached our capacity as far as second homes are concerned,” said Tony Bone, chairman of four organisations in the town.

“There are areas of the town, particularly in the winter months, which are not really occupied.”

The town has more second homes than many cities including Norwich, Exeter, Lincoln and Liverpool.

Laurie Wiseman, 73, who has lived in Aldeburgh for almost 25 years, said while many second homeowners integrated in the community and often relocated full-time after retiring, the rising number of holiday lets bought as investments was more concerning.

He said there were now more than 400 holiday homes in the old part of the town, with the numbers growing rapidly over recent years.

“A lot of people come here to retire,” he added.

“They contribute to the clubs and associations and keep the town bubbling away, but with all the holiday homes, that’s now happening less and it makes it harder for people to buy property to live in.”

Harry Wass, residential sales director with the Aldeburgh branch of Flick & Son estate agents, said many people bought second homes in the town as an investment but also for their own holidays, with most coming from London, Hertfordshire or Essex.

Towns not immediately thought of as tourist destinations are also reported to have seen an increase in second homes.

Former Southwold mayor Simon Tobin, pictured celebrating a bathing water award for the townFormer Southwold mayor Simon Tobin, pictured celebrating a bathing water award for the town

A Suffolk County Council report from several years ago identified Leiston as the next “hot spot” for growth, while many of the surrounding villages have significant concentrations of second homes. Suffolk Coastal said workers at Sizewell who paid council tax elsewhere were likely to account for some of these numbers.

Leiston-cum-Sizwell town councillor Colin Ginger said second home ownership had been increasing since the 1980s and he expected it to continue, warning about its possible effect on property prices for the next generation.

“What worries me is whether these new developments that we’ve got are going to be for young people or second home owners,” he said,

“You’ve got some people coming here who can well afford properties in Leiston but perhaps could not quite afford a second home in Aldeburgh or Southwold and that will drive up property prices.”

Housing chiefs ‘committed’ to helping local people remain in Suffolk

Council chiefs in east Suffolk say they have taken steps to provide affordable housing for local people in areas where there are large numbers of second homes.

Waveney District Council bought Duncan’s Yard in the centre of Southwold to provide 20 homes for rent by local people, while pursuing a similar scheme in neighbouring Reydon.

Laurie WisemanLaurie Wiseman

And Suffolk Coastal District Council has highlighted a £1.68m fund raised through developer contributions, which it intends to use to provide “the right type of housing in the right places to meet local people’s needs”.

In a joint statement, Richard Kerry and Sue Allen, who are responsible for housing at the two councils, said second home owners made “significant” contributions to the economy and its tourism industry and paid full council tax rates. They said some second homes were due to residents having their main home elsewhere but living in the districts for work.

“The challenge we face at the moment is making sure there is a balance and that there is suitable housing for local people to stay in the area,” they added.

“We don’t want to push out young people, families, and lower paid people out of the communities they have been brought up in.

“We are committed to doing so by building more homes and more affordable homes in Suffolk Coastal and Waveney to ensure more local people can afford to stay here.”

Quality holiday lets are a ‘very strong element of our attraction to visitors’

Tourism leaders in Suffolk say the use of second homes as holiday lets is “hugely important” for the county’s £1.85 billion visitor economy.

Luke JeansLuke Jeans

Amanda Bond, brand manager for Visit Suffolk said the “quality and quantity” of holiday rentals available in the county was “undeniably a very strong element of our attraction to visitors”.

“In choosing self-catering accommodation, visitors support local businesses by eating out and shopping locally to eat in, as well as visiting the many museums, shops, heritage sites and other attractions in the area,” she added.

“Rental properties also need looking after, so they support a variety of local employment including maintenance, cleaners and gardeners.”

Visit Suffolk’s recent “business confidence monitor” showed that two fifths of Suffolk businesses surveyed had reported a year-on-year increase in the volume of visitors with more than half saying advanced bookings for 2016 were “good” or “very good”.

“Anecdotally, the uplift in the self-catering sector was considered to be unprecedented, and we know that overseas visitors such as the Dutch market certainly prefer to rent a holiday cottage,” Ms Bond added.

“The availability of second homes as holiday lets is therefore an essential part of our attraction.”

Harry Wass, secretary of the Aldeburgh Business Association also highlighted the Suffolk Coast destination management organisation’s work to help extend the visitor season, with its promotion of events such as Aldeburgh Literary Festival, which attracted hundreds of visitors this month.

Decline in second home ownership nationally follows changes in council taxes

The number of dwellings classed as second homes throughout England has fallen by nearly 10,000 in the past two years, following changes to the way council taxes were collected.

Whereas second homes were previously entitled to a discount, since April 2013 local authorities were given new powers to decide what reductions, if any, were to be offered.

Nearly 90% of the 245,000 second homes in England last year were not subject to any discount on their council tax.

In Colchester, where the number of second homes decreased at the region’s steepest rate from 678 in 2009 to 425 last year, the borough council says the downward trend is in line with the national picture and supports the aim of bringing properties back into use.

9 comments

  • Show me a 'local' person who has refused to sell their property to an 'outsider' for a high price and has, instead, sold to a 'local' person for a reduced price then I'll listen to the locals arguments.

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    WoodyMan

    Friday, March 18, 2016

  • Well said suffolkprincess !! Warbsfan take off your blinkers and read what you've actually written again ! You're part of the destruction of local villages. What on earth will you do when the lady who you pay to put out your bin retires, and no young people can afford to live permanently in the village ???

    Report this comment

    bettycoltrane

    Thursday, March 17, 2016

  • Thank you WarbsFan. You have helped make my point. It seems you have little concern for the damage you are doing and can’t comprehend the strength of feeling people like me have for this area. Perhaps it is easy for second home owners to remain blithely ignorant. You are able to pack up your car on a Sunday afternoon and leave the problems you are creating behind. Do you honestly feel it is right that towns like Walberswick have 40% of their houses ringfenced as second homes? Visitors should absolutely be encouraged to visit and enjoy our beautiful county, but as tourists not occasional weekend residents.

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    Suffolkprincess

    Thursday, March 17, 2016

  • Suffolkprincess. What a rant. My comment was not a justification. Was just telling it like it is. I agree that there should be housing provision for locals but you need to look at the policy makers planners to help with that. Much more could be done to force developers to provide local housing provision within their schemes. We should also look to places such as Guernsey which has strict housing controls with Open Market and Local Market Housing ensuring locals aren't priced off the island.

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    WarbsFan

    Thursday, March 17, 2016

  • @WarbsFan Your attempt to justify owning a second home is the same tired tripe pedalled out everytime by people like you, who somehow feel they're doing our region a grand favour by owning a perminant holiday cottage here. Do you think a local family, if they had the opportunity to live permanently in your second property, wouldn't contribute socially and economically in the same way that you do? Granted us simple local folk proberbly wouldn't employ someone to put the bins out (afterall we're here on Tuesdays to do that ourselves) but we live here every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your part-time contribution will never be greater than that of a full-time local resident. As for your deep local connections, I too have friends and family living in other parts of the country. But instead of securing a 'quaint little bolthole' to trundle off to after work on Friday, I use the services of local B&Bs and hotels. So I will tell you what is truely shameful - local people forced to move away from the areas they grew in, the area their parents grew up In and the area their grandparents grew up in, because villages and towns in Suffolk are being turned into exclusive playgrounds. I know several second homeowners and of course they are nice, good people - but at least they have the good grace to acknowledge their selfishness damages a delicate housing market, puts local facilities at risk and forces thousands of families to leave the area they love to seek housing they can afford.

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    Suffolkprincess

    Thursday, March 17, 2016

  • What a shame your reporter did not look a little deeper at this issue. A great number of second homes in Walberswick are owned by families with deep connections with the village who moved away for jobs, etc but want to retain their link with the village. We have a second home in Walberswick which is used by family and for holiday lets. It is occupied for at least 40 weeks of the year. We employ a gardener, cleaner, lady who takes out the bins and others who all live locally. We contribute to village initiatives such as beach clean, have made a financial contribution to the village hall fund and other community initiatives and shopeat in the local buisnesses. What a shame you relied on Luke Jeans for an opinion. He owns 2 houses in Walberswick and another in Southwold so a second and a third home!

    Report this comment

    WarbsFan

    Wednesday, March 16, 2016

  • @ May Day - You've hit the nail squarely on the head, and what you say applies equally to Southwold (my home town on both sides of family). In the last 20 years, there has been a definite change in 2nd house (I hesitate to call them "homes") ownership. Where they are let out as holiday accommodation, they are at least occupied for some part of the year. This does have some benefit to local shops, although there is a swarm of supermarket delivery vans at weekends and holidays, so that money isn't going into the local economy. However, people have so much money in bonuses etc. that even overpriced property in Southwold is snapped up as a way of spending £400k-£1m plus pocket money. The local builders have a bonanza ripping out nearly new deluxe kitchens etc. and "improving" these properties. They then stay empty, some for 50 weeks of the year, with no advantage to anyone. As for civic or community spirit, these people have none, and they demand all the time but will not contribute a penny to the place they so mimsily profess to love. They are killing the very things which make the place special in the first instance.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

  • can somebody explain why second homes pay reduced council tax. if you can afford to buy a second home then you can afford to pay full council tax.

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    G OldMan

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

  • Wake up Suffolk!! This has been going on for years now; It's hardly news. I used to holiday in Aldeburgh back in the 60s and 70s. and when I came to live in Suffolk in 1976, hoped to spend more time there. In those days, it was a lovely town, with a rich mix of inhabitants, lovely old fashioned shops and pubs; it felt like being in Suffolk. Aldeburgh always had its rich residents, but they were "old money" and didn't find it necessary to strut about the town, advertising their wealth. In recent years, I have been saddened by the appearance of the town. It no longer looks like Suffolk; it's suffered from the Sunday Times syndrome and become London by the sea, with it's absurdly overpriced, twee shops. The place is overrun with rude, ignorant Londoners who have plenty of money, but no understanding of the county and its people. Years ago, I made many friends in Aldeburgh, sadly many of whom have now died, and I loved the town more than anywhere on earth. Nowadays, I can't even bring myself to go there any more. The same is happening to Framlingham, which used to be a typical Suffolk market town, now changed beyond recognition. I visited recently and was shocked by the number of Londoners there and the huge number of restaurants and cafes which feel totally alien to our county. We're too near London, that's the problem.

    Report this comment

    May Day

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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