Lake District second homes crisis looms

 

LAKE District communities risk becoming ‘villages without children’, experts have warned.

Second homes and holiday lets have hit 80 per cent in Elterwater and are nearing 70 per cent of all homes in Skelwith Bridge.

And even in Coniston they have breached 50 per cent for the first time, claim housing campaigners.

Thousands of parents and children left South Lakeland between 2001 and 2011, and there was a massive rise in the number of 60-to-64-year-olds moving in, census figures show.

Judith Derbyshire, head of Cumbria Rural Housing Trust, warned: “We are heading towards a perfect storm and South Lakeland is at the forefront of it. All these issues are coming together to create one big one for the future.”

But consistently high house prices and low paid careers are also making the issue worse, she said.

“I am talking to different people about who is moving in and who is moving out and it’s always young ones moving out while the people moving in tend to be retired.

“Older people bring a lot of skills, knowledge and advantages, but we need a mix of ages,” she said.

“We need young people to work in shops, pubs, garages and look after our older people in the jobs that are not well paid – otherwise how are we going to manage? We will have villages without young families and children.”

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The average house price in the National Park is put at £254,477 and the average income £26,899. Those on low incomes would need 12.9 times their annual salary for a mortgage.

But rental rates for flats in the honeypots have also soared in 10 years, while the open house market was dictated by those with higher incomes, said Mrs Derbyshire.

There could come a time when villages would be entirely dep-endent on young people forced to live in neighbouring towns where more and cheaper housing was available.

Mark Squires, head teacher of Langdale Primary School, said he had managed to sustain its roll of 45 children by drawing pupils from neighbouring towns.

“In the 14 years I have been here the number of houses occupied full time has decreased,” said Mr Squires.

“There are places here where there are noticably fewer children than their used to be, for example Little Langdale – and in the Duddon Valley they’ve closed the school and barely anyone under the age of 40 lives there.”

Statistics are collated on the proportion of second homes and holiday lets from business rates and council tax discounts, but South Lakeland District Council says these are under-reported and home owner arrangements can be complex to establish.

In Coniston, a grass roots survey of 600 homes by the local land trust is under way to establish housing need.

The community-run Coniston and Torver Community Land Trust is behind the survey, with support from Coniston Parish Council.

Alastair Cameron, a Torver-born resident and chairman of the trust, which has already delivered 22 affordable houses, said: “It is important to keep a handle on this issue because otherwise you run the risk that the post office shuts, you lose services such as schools and sustaina-bility is threatened. All we are trying to do is get the balance right between holiday lets, second homes and homes for local people.”

Mum-of-one Helen Dodd, who works in the hospitality industry, is secretary of the trust. “I want somewhere for my child to live in the village when he grows up and to make sure we still have amenities.”

 

BUSINESSMAN Philip Johnston says his 60 holiday cottages at Coniston Coppermines are good for employment in the village.
 

The 59-year-old director employs 30 people, including office staff, gardeners, housekeepers and tradesmen.
And he says the firm also generates lots of additional work for local people such as decorators, gardeners and plumbers.
 

“All the properties have to be kept top notch,” said Mr John-ston. “Every window needs cleaning far more often than your home ever would.”

He says Coniston has around six joinery businesses – trades and pay packets that would not exist without holiday lets or second homes.
 

“You have to consider the amount of money they bring into the local economy that would not be here,” explained Mr Johnston, who puts the figure at about £4 million a year for his business alone.
 

“The disposable income and spend of one of our visitors is about three times that of a resident. Without them, Coniston would not be able to sustain the number of shops selling food, the bank, and probably the post office.
 

“Coniston has five pubs and a restaurant - you wouldn’t sustain those on residents alone.”
 

Mr Johnston ‘gives back’ to the community by using his snow plough to clear roads and says his company also campaigned to keep open the local toilets and tourist information centre, and sponsors local events.
 

He said several local landowners, who also own holidays lets, had put forward land in the past for affordable homes as well as investing in empty shops and properties.
 

“I think there should be more homes for local people because we need people to work in our communities,” said Mr Johnston.
 

“The problem you have is that only around 40,000 people live in the National Park and it has eight million visitors. Half of those living in it are over 60 or retired. We only have a working population of around 20,000 which is not enough for the visitors we have to service.”
 

Coniston parish councillor Anne Hall is focussed on identifying empty homes to create new affordable homes.
 

She said: “We have always said we understand the value of holiday lets to Coniston, but I felt I wanted to give people hope of being able to stay in their village.”
 

Officially, there are 572 homes in Coniston and 368 are lived in permanently. Statistics show there are 204 second homes and holiday lets but South Lakeland District Council and others admit that the numbers could be higher.
 

Sixty-six properties are rented through housing associations, 70 are privately rented and several have local 106 occupancy clauses.
 

It means 157 properties are ‘protected’ in the village but 211 are privately owned and could go up for sale to anyone.
 

Pheona Nicholson, a mum-of-four, lives at one of Coniston’s new affordable housing schemes.
 

She thought she would have to leave village forever when the floods in 2009 wiped out her rented property and she had to go to Hawkshead.
 

She said: “I love living in Coniston and I never tire of the view. We never thought we would be able to come back because of the prices.”

Comments (4)

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11:40am Thu 18 Apr 13

cat on hot brix says...

I have always lived in Ambleside. It saddens and angers me that the majority of houses in the small community I live (and was brought up in) are second homes. I remember growing up here, every house was home to a local family, and everyone had a job. Tourism has been allowed to take over, and ruin this area. Ambleside now only caters for tourists, with walking shops in abundance! In years to come, I can see Ambleside becoming a Retail Outlet Village, full of walking shops - surrounded by holiday homes, only catering for the people who want to purchase new waterproofs! I know dozens of locals who have felt forced to leave the area, because the properties they could (just) afford to buy - have been snapped up by wealthier people from outside the area, who 'do the place up' - then rent it out for holidays. I know of someone who owns numerous second homes around Ambleside alone! Young locals want to stay living here - but it's almost impossible! This area is saturated with second homes - and it's about time it was stopped.
I have always lived in Ambleside. It saddens and angers me that the majority of houses in the small community I live (and was brought up in) are second homes. I remember growing up here, every house was home to a local family, and everyone had a job. Tourism has been allowed to take over, and ruin this area. Ambleside now only caters for tourists, with walking shops in abundance! In years to come, I can see Ambleside becoming a Retail Outlet Village, full of walking shops - surrounded by holiday homes, only catering for the people who want to purchase new waterproofs! I know dozens of locals who have felt forced to leave the area, because the properties they could (just) afford to buy - have been snapped up by wealthier people from outside the area, who 'do the place up' - then rent it out for holidays. I know of someone who owns numerous second homes around Ambleside alone! Young locals want to stay living here - but it's almost impossible! This area is saturated with second homes - and it's about time it was stopped. cat on hot brix

8:31am Fri 19 Apr 13

Moonbase says...

Unfortunately the banks,estate agents and wages not in line are all to blame.
If you look on any holiday cottage website you will see that it is only to apparent that it's not just the lakes.
The only hope to stay in your native area these days is to get up the duff at 16 and let the state pay
Sad but true and more worrying is that I for one can not see it changing ever.
You either have it or you don't,there is no such thing about affordable housing,
wages dictate that
Unfortunately the banks,estate agents and wages not in line are all to blame. If you look on any holiday cottage website you will see that it is only to apparent that it's not just the lakes. The only hope to stay in your native area these days is to get up the duff at 16 and let the state pay Sad but true and more worrying is that I for one can not see it changing ever. You either have it or you don't,there is no such thing about affordable housing, wages dictate that Moonbase

8:38am Fri 19 Apr 13

maggieann2luke says...

It's the same here in Chapel Stile as well as Elterwater, there are more holiday lets than permanent homes. Young people have no chance of living in their home village because property prices are so ridiculously high as are private rents. As for the original comment about visitors spending more than locals, a lot of businesses are closing because people are not buying things. They buy on-line before they come here, whether it's food or walking gear because it's cheaper. Something needs doing, just because it's a national park doesn't mean it is an area purely for visitors. Local families are being priced out of living here and it's just gone too far now.
It's the same here in Chapel Stile as well as Elterwater, there are more holiday lets than permanent homes. Young people have no chance of living in their home village because property prices are so ridiculously high as are private rents. As for the original comment about visitors spending more than locals, a lot of businesses are closing because people are not buying things. They buy on-line before they come here, whether it's food or walking gear because it's cheaper. Something needs doing, just because it's a national park doesn't mean it is an area purely for visitors. Local families are being priced out of living here and it's just gone too far now. maggieann2luke

9:48pm Fri 19 Apr 13

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

If you look on Zoopla or Rightmove property websites for houses in LA22 or LA23 postcodes, you'll see that the cheapest houses (£175,00 to £200,00, so not very cheap!) have a Local Occupancy Clause. You need to have lived in that parish for three years or have a family connection. Some of these houses are ex-council houses, some have a recent planning permission and others I don't know where the LOC comes from. Perhaps a council has no legal power to extend this scheme and might be sued for loss of house value if the LOC were imposed on more houses. Maybe the council tax is the only way to deter second home-owners and a higher business rate for holiday cottage lettings.
If you look on Zoopla or Rightmove property websites for houses in LA22 or LA23 postcodes, you'll see that the cheapest houses (£175,00 to £200,00, so not very cheap!) have a Local Occupancy Clause. You need to have lived in that parish for three years or have a family connection. Some of these houses are ex-council houses, some have a recent planning permission and others I don't know where the LOC comes from. Perhaps a council has no legal power to extend this scheme and might be sued for loss of house value if the LOC were imposed on more houses. Maybe the council tax is the only way to deter second home-owners and a higher business rate for holiday cottage lettings. Milkbutnosugarplease

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