Cumbrian landscape charity Friends of the Lake District has tentatively welcomed a move to help communities where high proportions of the housing stock are lost to holiday lets. The charity, however, is keen to see more detail on how the proposals would work in practice.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove recently announced measures that would enable authorities to require planning permission to be sought to turn a permanent home into a holiday let. This proposal would sit alongside a new requirement to sign up holiday lets to a mandatory national register.

Friends of the Lake District responded to a Government consultation last year supporting these measures in principle, and has welcomed the move, which they say is a positive step in addressing what is a long-standing but increasing issue affecting communities in the Lake District and Cumbria.

The charity remains concerned that the proposals still allow properties to be used as holiday lets for up to 90 days per year and will not require existing holiday lets to seek permission to operate.

The charity also notes that local planning authorities will only be able to apply the requirement if they undertake a process of opting-in, an element of the proposals that they challenged in the last consultation.

Friends’ CEO, Mike Hill says:

 “The loss of local housing stock to holiday lets is a long-standing issue but has increased significantly in recent years. It means those homes are no longer accessible for local people to use as permanent homes and so they are forced to move away, stripping the vitality and viability from rural communities.

“Making it a requirement to apply for permission to use a home as a holiday let is certainly a welcome move, and one that we have called for some time, but in many settlements, this is too little, too late.

“As this new requirement is not retrospective, it will have no impact on the many homes that have already been lost, and a property that is let out for 90 days per year can’t also be a permanent home. It may just sit empty for the rest of the year”.

Friends’ Planning Officer, Lorayne wall says:

“There is of course no one measure that will address these complex housing issues alone. It will require a suite of measures all working together to be effective.

In this case, it’s concerning that authorities will be required to opt-in, placing the onus on those areas where there’s already been a negative impact, rather than being a preventative measure. More details of the measures are to follow, and they are expected to come into force in the summer.”