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The Welsh Government recently introduced changes which give local authorities greater power to regulate the use of primary homes as second/holiday homes or short term holiday lets.

The changes have been introduced due to concerns about the impact a rise in the number of second homes and holiday lets is having on local communities. These include the ability of locals to afford to buy homes, the closure of local services and businesses (other than those supported by seasonal tourism) due to towns and villages being increasingly empty outside of the holiday season, and the protection of the Welsh language as the areas most affected by second homeownership are Welsh-speaking.

A 2020 report found that in Gwynedd, 10.76% of available housing comprised second homes or holiday lets. In Pembrokeshire this figure was 9.15%, and Anglesey, 8.26%.

The Welsh Government has responded by creating separate classes in the Use Classes Order 1987, comprising:

(i) primary homes (Use Class C3), which are occupied as a sole or main residence for more than 183 days a year;

(ii) second homes (Use Class C5), which are used for 183 days a year or less; and

(iii) short-term lets (Use Class C6), which are used for short-term commercial lettings for up to 31 days for each period of occupation.

Permitted development rights have been updated to allow changes of use between these classes without planning consent; however, local authorities have the power to disapply the permitted changes via an Article 4 direction. It is for each authority to decide whether an Article 4 direction is appropriate and justified; whilst we are not aware that any Article 4 directions have been introduced yet, several authorities are actively considering it, and Gwynedd and Pembrokeshire Councils are expected to do so soon with a view to reducing the number of primary homes being used as second homes or holiday lets in their areas.

For those looking to buy holiday homes in Wales, it will be important to check whether an Article 4 direction has been introduced by the relevant local authority. If it has, it would be sensible for them to seek advice as to their options going forward.

Mark Turner

Mark Turner

Planning, Environmental, Energy and Regulatory Partner

Mark advises clients on a wide range of planning matters including applications and appeals, Certificates of Lawfulness, High Court challenges and Judicial Reviews, and enforcement.

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