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This is how to solve the second-home conundrum

At a time when affordable housing is in short supply, allow me to give an old idea a modern paint job

Brighton looks set to become the first city in England to crack down on second homes Credit: Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Second home owners, eh? Spawn of the devil. Godsend to bespoke kitchen firms. Mainstay of the rural economy, coughing up for homemade honey at eight quid a jar. Or selfish townies buying up property, pricing out the locals.

Wherever you stand on this issue, there’s no getting away from the fact that from Scotland to Sussex the tide is turning on wealthy incomers cuckoo-ing people out of their nests.

Brighton looks set to become the first city in England to crack down on second homes after councillors ordered plans for a ban to be drawn up; new rules prohibiting new-build properties from becoming second homes or holiday lets will be drafted after a council vote.

The policy of securing new homes as primary residences was pioneered by the Cornish fishing port of St Ives in 2016 after a local referendum. Other councils across the South West have since followed suit.

As someone without the means or inclination to acquire a second home at the expense of young families who want to remain where their roots are, it’s easy to pontificate.

I do disapprove of the people carriers packed with a full Waitrose shop that trundle down country lanes, close the gates of their sprawling “cottages” behind them and fail to interact with or invest in the community.

But given the prices of these properties they are arguably less responsible for the current ill will than those who snap up smaller houses and flats in towns and villages where there is high demand from locals, who are left understandably frustrated.

New legislation in Wales means that from next April, local authorities can increase council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties by 300 per cent.

In Scotland, second home owners face being stripped of the Chancellor’s £400 cost of living handout. While they will still receive the money for their main home, a one-off council tax levy on second and empty homes would wipe out the impact of any further Treasury support.

But the real nub of the issue is tackling the demand versus supply of second homes, at a time when affordable housing is in short supply. May I present an old idea, dusted down and spruced up with a verandah and a smart paint job? Holiday chalets. Hi-de-Hi!

I regularly rent one in Suffolk in a private park. Nothing fancy because it’s not about recreating a home from home.

Nobody wants to live there full time – it’s not allowed, even if they did. We go to the pub, eat out, explore and relish what we don’t have in the city. And maybe appreciate what we do have a little more when we return.