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St Ives votes on second homes

In 2016, St Ives, a coastal community in Cornwall, held a referendum to ask its residents whether they agreed with a ban on building any housing other than ‘principal homes’. The 12,000 local parishioners voted overwhelmingly in May in favour of the neighbourhood development plan (NDP) that includes this planning provision.

St Ives is one of many coastal communities around the UK who face this challenge. Tourism is an essential part of its day to day life and impacts significantly on planning issues as the demand for property is high. St Ives’ NDP determined that further development of new open market housing without any restrictions on occupation, which could be used as a second or holiday home, is no longer socially, economically or environmentally viable in the NDP area.

According to St Ives council, 25% of the town’s residential properties were second homes in 2011, a 70% increase in a decade. Following the referendum, they were challenged, however, by the local land agent RLT Architects, which argued that the plan infringed the rights of people who live in a capitalist society to buy property where they want. In November, a high court judge ruled that St Ives’ proposal did not breach human rights legislation, and the community now wait for a final say on their planning provision.

Edwina Hannaford at Cornwall Council said: “This is a hugely important judgment for Cornwall, St Ives town council and for the residents of St Ives who wanted to ensure that any new homes in the town would be the resident’s sole or main residence. We also know that a number of other local communities, both in Cornwall and across the rest of the country, are also interested in including similar policies in their own neighbourhood plans and have been watching this case with interest.”

Photo: Robert Pittman via Flickr