Bid to bring number of second homes in Southwold under control

Southwold Town Council

Southwold’s Neighbourhood Plan hopes to increase the full-time resident population - Credit: Southwold Town Council

People in Southwold have voted in favour of a plan which includes measures to stem the number of second homes in the town.

Huge numbers of homes in the upmarket Suffolk seaside resort, where property commands a high price, have become second homes or holidays lets.

Over many years, this has led to difficulties for local people who want to remain living in the area, and times of the year when many of the second homes are empty.

In a recent referendum, 87% of electors endorsed the Southwold Neighbourhood Plan, which sets out a vision for development until 2036.

It concentrates on rebuilding the permanent population through restricting the number of second homes built in the future and making more affordable housing possible for local people.

Cllr Will Windell. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cllr Will Windell. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Southwold mayor Will Windell said the plan was already making a difference, with a principal residence requirement to be placed upon the three market homes proposed for the former fire station site in Station Road.

“The high turnout of 37.8% compared to many other Neighbourhood Plan areas demonstrates once again the vibrancy of Southwold’s small resident community," said Mr Windell.

Cllr David Beavan

Cllr David Beavan - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Cllr David Beavan said that he was "generally pleased, especially with the residency clause", adding: "It's going to stop the second homes increasing.

"We may have to do community-led housing because the district council are not building enough social homes."

The plan introduces several policies which state that proposals for all new housing will only be supported where first and future occupation is "restricted in perpetuity to ensure that each new dwelling is occupied only as a principal residence".

The plan will also deliver affordable housing through a Community Led Housing (CLH) Group, which has the legal ability to build permanently affordable housing.

A survey conducted in 2016 found 57% of the 1,388 houses were occupied as second homes or used for holiday letting.

Additional research showed that of the 498 properties sold between 2006 and 2016, only 24% were occupied by permanent residents and the remaining 76% had become, or continued to be, holiday lets or second homes.

The plan will formally be made at East Suffolk Council’s full council meeting on February 23.

The full plan, policies and supporting documents, are available online at southwoldtown.com/southwold-neighbourhood-plan.