One positive upshot from the pandemic was the huge increase in 'stay-cationing' in the UK; a habit which for many has remained. However, the rising numbers seeking holiday accommodation in England's coastal towns and National Parks etc has seen ever increasing pressures on local housing availability and affordability. For many the continued trend of short-term letting in the UK is problematic.
You may (or may not) have heard about the Government's current consultation on possible changes to the Use Classes Order in England. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is seeking views on changes to the Use Classes Order to help address issues associated with short-term letting.
In short, the Government is seeking views on:
• The introduction of a new use class for short term lets (e.g. Airbnbs);
• The potential introduction of new permitted development (PD) rights for the change of use from a house to a short term let, or vice versa;
• How flexibility for homeowners to let out their home for a number of nights in a calendar year could be provided through either changes to the dwellinghouse use class or an additional PD right; and
• The introduction of a planning application fee for the development of new build short term lets.
The Government is also consulting on a registration scheme for short term lets.
What is a 'short-term let'?
The consultation offers the following definition:
“C5 Short Term Let - Use of a dwellinghouse that is not a sole or main residence for temporary sleeping accommodation for the purpose of holiday, leisure, recreation, business or other travel.”
'Second homes' that are additionally let out for part of the year will fall into the C5 short term let use class where they meet the definition.
The letting out of a room, or rooms, for example, for a lodger within a 'sole or main' dwellinghouse is not included in the definition.
Why are these changes proposed?
Ultimately, there is concern that short-term letting is negatively impacting the sustainability of local communities. The consultation is seeking solutions to address the shortage of available and affordable local housing and the wider issues arising. Simply, lots of short-term lets in a given area can reduce housing available for local people to buy and live in; it can lead to an increase in rental and sales costs of available housing; there are associated noise and anti-social behaviour concerns relating to large numbers of 'out of towners'; meanwhile, some popular destinations are described as 'ghost towns' outside the holiday seasons with properties lying empty for most of the year. This has a knock-on effect on the wider local economy and the ability of businesses to sustain themselves throughout the whole year.
On the other hand, short-term lets can bring significant socio-economic benefits to parts of the country highly reliant on a strong local tourist sector. They often provide a valuable source of income for homeowners who decide to let out their homes on a temporary basis, or spare bedrooms which may otherwise be unoccupied. Short term lets can relieve pressure on local hotels and B&Bs when large public events come to town e.g. Eurovision, Sporting Competitions, Concerts etc. Beware therefore, the law of unintended consequences! It is clear a careful balance needs to be struck.
A new use class does bring potential opportunities, opening up the possibility of delivering flexible or temporary short term tourist accommodation in buildings where permanent dwellinghouses may be inappropriate.
A key issue in getting to grips with short-term letting is that we understand the Government and local authorities simply don't have the data about where and how many short-term lets are operating. This issue happens to be the subject of a separate consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport exploring a potential registration or licensing scheme for short-term lets in England.
In Wales, with planning devolved, the Welsh Government introduced two new use classes in October 2022: one for second homes (Class C5); and the other for short term lets (Class C6) described as “another tool in the armoury of local authorities” to carefully manage the issues outlined above. Many Welsh local authorities are now busy gathering data to help inform decisions on the restriction of PD rights through, for example, the imposition of planning conditions and/or Article 4 directions for the management of PD in popular tourist areas. It appears England is heading in a similar direction.
Through our recent work in Wales CarneySweeney has first-hand experience of identifying the opportunities, and managing the planning issues these Use Class changes raise. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions.
Contact: Clodagh Macken email@example.com
Click here to participate in the consultation:
Registration scheme for short terms lets in England:
Use Class Order and PD changes in England:
The consultation is open until 7th June 2023.