Cornish residents reject second home owners' claims they are 'needed'

Cornish second home owners say county ‘needs’ outsiders buying properties to bring money into the area but natives claim they leave towns ‘soulless’ and ’empty’ in winter

  • Cornish residents have hit back against claim they need second home owners 
  • An article published in The Telegraph stirred up a furious social media response 
  • One-fifth of private-sector income in Cornwall, £2 billion a year, is from tourism 
  • But Cornish residents blame second home owners for driving up property prices
  • The government has said it will hike council tax on ‘idle’ homes by 100 percent
  • It comes following a rise in anti-second home graffiti incidents in the county 

Outraged residents of Cornwall have trashed claims that the county ‘needs’ second home owners to survive. 

The response follows rising tensions surrounding second home owners and the notion that they leave towns ‘soulless’ and ’empty’ in the winter months.

In an article published on Wednesday, it was claimed that Cornwall needed the income provided by second home owners and tourists to keep businesses in the region alive. 

The article stated that £2 billion revenue in Cornwall – equal to a fifth of all private-sector income, comes from tourism. 

 Outraged residents of Cornwall have criticised claims that the coastal county ‘needs’ second home owners – despite holidaymakers bringing the area £2 billion a year. Pictured: Graffiti in St Agnes, near Perranporth, from March tells second home owners to ‘rent or sell your empty houses’

Data from Cornwall Council shows where the county’s 13,500 second homes were distributed in 2018

A surfer walks past the vandalised property, located a stone’s throw from the beach

However, locals complain that second home owners and investors are keeping the price of property in the region artificially high. 

There are an estimated 13,500 second homes in Cornwall with 10,000 places advertised on AirBnB. 

A recent report by Halifax has shown that homes by the sea have increased in value by more than £22,000 last year, with values boosted by the pandemic’s work from home ethic.  

Last year’s price gains mean properties by the sea have soared by 50 percent or £95,599 over the past decade, with a 27 percent leap in the past five years.

An article on Wednesday in the Telegraph writes that second home owners bring ‘much-needed’ investment into the area. 

But many disagreed with the notion that Cornwall would not survive without them calling the article ‘fatuous tripe’ and ‘arrogant’.

Within the article, second home owners and real estate agents are quoted as saying things like ‘it’s definitely not all ‘take-take-take’ and that ‘people with second homes are here as often as they can be’. 

Kate Hanson, who has a four-bedroom second home in Mawgan Porth is quoted as saying: ‘There is never any tension between second home owners and locals’.

She continued: ‘None at all, we get on extremely well. I feel people’s pain – there is a lot of poverty in-land – but there is a lot of tourism, and we spend a lot of money when we’re down there, as if we’re on holiday.’

A message reading ‘tourists go home, no second homes’ was daubed on the road leading up to the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall

Jane Baker, who has worked in property for three decades, added fuel to the fire in saying: ‘We need second home owners, otherwise pubs would shut, restaurants would shut, shops would shut.’ Here’s some of the powerful reaction the article has sparked with people questioning: ‘However did we survive before second homes?’

@RicardoTomato added: ‘Walking around Fowey and Polruan out of holiday season is one of the saddest strolls you will ever have. The complete lack of life is soul destroying.

The Cornwall Is A Nation account tweeted: ‘It’s always the same story with these arrogant, entitled, ignorant, patronising, imperialistic morons.’

@Kernow-Youth said: ‘Cornwall will do just fine without second home owners. In fact, we’ll succeed! We’ll finally be able to rebuild our communities and not be priced out of our own towns. We need to phase out second homes now, and give our young people a fairer future.

@IanSaltern said: ‘If ‘surviving’ is living in a tent on the side of a cliff or food poisoning because you can’t afford to run the fridge at night, I’d like to see what not surviving looks like.. What fatuous tripe.’

@bernarddeacon wrote: ‘Second home owners, estate agents and journalists queue up to inform naughty locals that Cornwall couldn’t possibly live without them. 

‘However did we survive before second homes? Place must have been an unpopulated desert with no history.’

In March, a wall in north-west Cornwall was daubed with the words: ‘Second home owners give something back: Rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price’ .

A message on a neighbouring wall read: ‘No more investment properties’. 

One villager from St Agnes, near Perranporth in Cornwall, said each time they walk past the house, they feel sad that it sits empty for most of the year. 

They said: ‘Although vandalism won’t solve it, it is a talking point.’ 

Speaking to The Telegraph, one local – 57-year-old Andy Goundry, claimed he knew who had authored the graffiti – because he recognised the handwriting. 

Mr Goundry, a local estate agent, estimated the village of St Agnes is 75 percent locally owned first homes, with the remaining quarter being second homes and holiday lets.

He said: ‘As a business, we don’t discriminate, and ultimately most people want the best price for their property.

The graffiti calls for no more investment properties in the tourist-heavy southwestern county.  The government has said it plans to raise council tax by 100 percent on ‘idle’ second homes in a sign it is coming around to many Cornish residents’ way of thinking

‘Interestingly, we’ve had some landlords locally who’ve rejected higher offers in favour of keeping the property within the local community. 

He added: ‘But you’ve got to be able to afford that.’ 

In June last year, graffiti telling tourists to ‘go home’ was sprayed outside the Minack Theatre, a popular outdoor theatre built into the granite cliffside in Porthcurno.

The words ‘tourists go home, no second homes’ appeared a short distance from the theatre’s welcome sign.

The Queen’s Speech last week included a plan to raise council tax by 100 percent on second homes that are idle – neither being let out or used by their owners for at least 70 days per year.

This week, the housing minister, Stuart Andrew, said in addition to the council tax hike, ‘there is more we need to explore’ – suggesting the government might take further actions to win the favour of locals who feel besieged by holidaymakers and part-time residents. 

In January last year, Padstow Town Council began looking at limiting the number of second home owners in the area. 

The coastal port in North Cornwall has high numbers of second homes, and may ask homebuyers to prove the new-build home they are attempting to purchase is their main address.

This could mean putting their children in local schools or registering to vote in the area, reported Cornwall Live.

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