The High Court has found a policy detailed in the St. Ives Neighbourhood Plan that prevents new housing being used as second homes to be lawful.
The St. Ives town Neighbourhood Plan is the first in the UK to restrict occupancy of any new dwelling as ‘Principal Residence’. This is solely aimed at decreasing the level of holiday homes in St. Ives.
Justice Hickinbottom said he considered the policy to be in ‘pursuit of legitimate public interests’ identified in Article 8, namely the interests of the economic wellbeing of the country and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. He therefore granted permission to proceed with the policy. [Article 8 relates to a clause in the European Convention of Human Rights].
Edwina Hannaford, Cabinet Member for Cornwall County Council Planning said; “This is a hugely important judgement for Cornwall, St. Ives Town Council and for residents of St. Ives who wanted to ensure that any new homes in the town would be the resident’s sole or main residence.”
In our view this is a landmark judgement that could very easily lead to a significant reduction in housing delivery in higher value tourist related areas. In other non-tourist focused locations it may not be so easy for a judge to find in favour of such a restrictive policy by using the Article 8 argument. It will also be interesting to see how the policy will be policed following first occupation of any new homes. Indeed one might expect areas that incorporate such policies within in their Neighbourhood Plans which form part of a local areas Development Plan to control future occupancy by way of a planning condition attached to the grant of planning permission for new homes. However, the predicted reality of the situation is that the policy has significant uncertainties irrespective of the recent High Court judgement.
If you are a developer of second homes, within recognised tourist dominated locations you should get involved in the Neighbourhood Plan process as this High Court Judgement will undoubtedly have an impact on your business.
For more information contact:
John Foddy, Managing Director, FoddyConsult