Fewer than half of village's homes occupied by full-time residents

Morston, North Norfolk

Morston, North Norfolk, has the highest proportion of holiday lets and second homes in North Norfolk - Credit: James Bass

More than half of homes in the north Norfolk village of Morston are now either holiday lets or second homes, the district council has confirmed. 

Some 52.2pc of homes in the coastal village are not primary residences - an increase from the 47.7pc recorded last year, when 31 of Morston’s 65 homes were mainly used by people who don’t live there full-time. 

It means the village has overtaken nearby Salthouse, which last year had 50.3pc second homes and holiday lets, to become north Norfolk's parish with the highest proportion.  

Salthouse Church; 10th year of Salthouse Art Show; This picture shows Sea Birds by Jessica Parry and

Salthouse had the highest proportion of second homes and holiday lets in North Norfolk in 2021 - Credit: Colin Finch

The figure was revealed by the district council ahead of the planned publication of an investigative report looking into the impact of second homes - which is up for discussion at a meeting of the authority’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday, July 20. 

Roberta Hamond, vice-chair of Morston Parish Council, said the village had been fortunate, at least when it came to second homes, that the owners had integrated themselves into the community. 

“One of the things that we’re very lucky with is that a lot of the people who have second homes here actually see it as where they would want to live,” she said.

“They’re up at weekends, they’re involved in our fundraising for the church and quite a few of our full-time people now, began as second home-owners. We have a really strong community group.”

She added that it was still important for there to be a “balance”, but that the village was protected to an extent from aggressive development by its geography and the fact that it lies within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 

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A recent analysis by the BBC, looking at holiday lets specifically, found that they had increased by 40pc across England from 2018 to 2021. 

Norwich skyline

Norwich saw the biggest proportional increase in holiday lets in Norfolk, looking at the 2018-2021 period - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The biggest proportional increase in the county was in Norwich, which saw a rise of more than 100pc, “although from a fairly small base”, the BBC reported. 

North Norfolk now has 2,600 holiday lets, up 400 since before the pandemic. In Great Yarmouth, there was a 44pc rise - from 871 to 1,251. 

South Norfolk meanwhile saw a 97pc increase, from 117 to 230. 

Southwold beach and pier.; Photo: Andy Darnell; Copy:; For: EDP; Archant © 2007 (01603) 772434

Southwold, on the Suffolk coast - Credit: Andy Darnell

And East Suffolk, which includes tourist hotspots like Southwold and Aldeburgh, saw the third-highest increase in the country, going from 1,475 to 1,614 over the same three-year period.

The analysis comes just as the government has announced plans to conduct a national review into the impact of holiday lets across the county. 

Roger Arguile, who chairs the working group drawing up a neighbourhood plan for busy tourist destination Wells-next-the-Sea, suggested that one area the review could look at would be tightening the rules around when permission is needed for people to start using their home as a holiday let. 

Roger Arguile, who chairs the working group behind Wells-next-the-Sea's forthcoming neighbourhood plan

Roger Arguile, who chairs the working group behind Wells-next-the-Sea's forthcoming neighbourhood plan - Credit: Supplied

He said: “Homes for Wells [a charitable community benefit society in the town] certainly has had applications from people who have been in long-term rental [properties], who have been kicked out in order for the house to be given to holiday lets.

“So we’re not dealing with a mere problem of numbers, we’re dealing with a problem of individual lives.”

While smaller villages like Morston, Salthouse and Blakeney had the highest percentages of second homes and holiday lets in north Norfolk, Wells - being a town - had a much larger raw number - some 615 of its 1,799 (34.2pc) homes were not primary residences in 2021. 

As the government's review was confirmed recently, housing minister Stuart Andrew said: “Holiday let sites like Airbnb have helped boost tourism across the country, but we need to make sure this doesn’t drive residents out of their communities.

Minister of state for housing, Stuart Andrew MP

Minister of state for housing, Stuart Andrew MP - Credit: Roger Harris Photography

“We are already taking action to tackle the issue of second and empty homes in some areas by empowering councils to charge up to double the rate of council tax.

“This review will give us a better understanding of how short term lets are affecting housing supply locally to make sure the tourism sector works for both residents and visitors alike."

In recent weeks, further west along the coast, a neighbourhood plan for Heacham saw locals vote in favour of new-build homes being primary residences but in neighbouring Hunstanton the vote didn't go as far, opting for more variety in new developments.

A public consultation on Wells-next-the-Sea’s neighbourhood plan is being held on July 15 from 2pm until 8pm, and on July 16 from 10am until 6pm, at Gordon Barrett Hall on Clubbs Lane.