Much has been written and discussed concerning the ownership of holiday homes and second homes in Cornwall, especially in rural areas.
Below is an article by Conal Urqhart from the Observer on 17th August 2013 that lends his voice to the debate, specifically looking at the impact of non-residents buying property in Padstow, once a sleepy fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall.
Here at Gwel an Mor, and in particular The Residence, we are conscious of promoting positive economic benefits to the local community, such as through the sourcing of local produce in our Terrace Restaurant, providing year round employment.
When it comes to Conal’s article, we are able to offer the market what it wants; luxurious holiday homes in Cornwall that do not adversely affect the local housing market.
So take a look at the article and let us know what you think.
Padstow’s locals are priced-out of Cornish resort by tourist boom
Flood of money into second homes in Padstow drives residents away, mirroring trend across rural areas
By Conal Urqhart for the Observer 17.8.13
It’s just after midday and a lone fisherman chugs against the outgoing tide into Padstow harbour carrying a few dozen crab claws and some fish for bait. In 30 minutes, his boat and Padstow’s diminished fishing fleet will be lying on the sand in the outer harbour.
In the inner harbour, a tidal gate maintains a high-water level, despite the low tide that has grounded the fleet. The pleasure boats remain buoyant, and an armada of holidaymakers pull inedible crabs from the quayside and consume buckets of ice-cream and fish and chips.
But what seems like an idyll for tourists, who will be joined this week by the prime minister and his family, has become an annual hell for many residents, who believe that, despite economic benefits, their community has been destroyed and everyday tasks made a struggle by road-blocking visitors.
The area also exemplifies one of the most pressing problems facing rural Britain – a shortage of homes for local people, exacerbated by wealthy outsiders buying second homes. David Taylor, a retired plumber who was born in Padstow, says he no longer recognises his village or its sense of community. “There are holiday homes on either side of me. What happens if I become sick and there are no neighbours to help? Padstow used to be about going down to the quayside and saying hello to people you knew. Now it’s all strangers. You only go to the town for the post office and the bank.”
Taylor is angered by the arrogance of some of the tourists and second-home owners and blames television chef Rick Stein for making Padstow fashionable. “And there’s the arrogance of the incomers; they park where they like. People have followed the money and now there is no Padstow left,” he said.
People from the town joke about Stein’s “seafood empire”, which has come to define Padstow more than its history or location. It is common to overhear people discussing the time of their restaurant reservation, and some refer to Padstow as Padstein.
The chef now has four restaurants, a pub, four shops, a cookery school and several places offering accommodation. The “empire” employs 350 people full-time, while fishing in Padstow employs just 28. Stein declined to comment for this article.
David Cameron and his family, who arrive this week after travelling to Portugal and Scotland earlier in the summer, will stay with George Hollingbery, the Conservative MP for Meon Valley, Hampshire, who recently bought his third property in the area.
Unaffordable housing is a common problem in rural England. Last week the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee published a report about the “rural penalty” that affects communities such as Padstow, including low investment, poor services and expensive housing. According to Anne McIntosh, the committee chairwoman: “Rural England desperately needs more affordable housing yet the government’s housing policies pay insufficient regard to the needs of rural communities.
“Failure to provide more of the right housing, at the right price and in the right place will exacerbate the problems of unaffordability and inequality in parts of rural England.” In Padstow, property prices have shot up because of the purchase of second homes. In 2010 the Halifax reported that the average house price in Padstow was £421,954, 18.9 times its estimate of average earnings of £22,000. Other estimates suggest average wages are much lower.
Locals have been forced out, with many moving to new developments such as St Eval, a nearby former RAF base. In 2001 the population of Padstow was 3,162 but it has fallen to 2,363, according to the 2009 Rural Deprivation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly report by the Cornwall Rural Community Council.
Charlie Watson-Smyth, one of Padstow’s few remaining farmers, and the town mayor, said it was a struggle to balance the benefits of tourism with the problems of inflated property prices. “We have the biggest differential between wages and house prices outside of central London. We have among the greatest densities of second homes in the UK, which can lead to some perhaps unfair resentment,” he said. “But you need to keep young families here otherwise there will be less demand for schools and amenities such as the post office.”
In daytime, Padstow’s narrow streets are packed with the less-active holidaymakers, pushing prams and leading dogs – Jack Russells, spaniels, retrievers but few bull terriers. By dusk, hordes of red faces arrive from the beach and off the water, adding to the congestion.
Tina Evans, a former councillor and guest house owner, said: “It’s sad in a way – 70% of the homes in the old town are second homes. There used to be butchers, fishmongers, bakers, grocers, but they have all gone. I don’t like the breakdown of the community but I would not have liked the town to become a rundown relic. The newcomers have invested in their property and the old town looks well cared for.”
In the windows of estate agents, the cheapest two-bedroom properties in the old town are about £320,000.
Peter Olivey, an estate agent, said: “It’s almost impossible for local people to buy property. Even renting, most second-home owners would much rather rent out their property at £750 per week and use it when they want rather than get an assured tenancy for £750 per month. There are plans to build affordable housing that might sell for £125,000 for a two-bed apartment but developers have little interest in building them because there is little profit.”
Watson-Smyth cites Jersey and Guernsey as places that have managed property prices by having two-tier markets, one open only to locals and those in vital professions, and the other to second-home buyers. He would like to invite Padstow’s part-time inhabitants to invest in a fund to provide shared-equity schemes for local people, which would enhance the local community and protect their investments.
Johnny Murt, 35, the fisherman who beat the outgoing tide to get into harbour, had been tending his 250 lobster pots. He said that almost all his contemporaries have moved out of Padstow. “It is very difficult to live here but I have lived away and I won’t live anywhere else. My wife and I live in a very small place but it’s a price I’m happy to pay.”