Impact of second homes in north Norfolk investigated by council

Blakeney is a second homes hotspot in Norfolk. Photo: MARK BULLIMORE

Blakeney is a second homes hotspot in Norfolk. Photo: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

An investigation has been launched into the impact of second homes in north Norfolk.

The information-gathering exercise will form part of a bid to better respond to the district’s unusually high number of holiday lets and spare properties

One in 10 houses in the area are second homes - the highest rate of any local authority in England and Wales, outside of London.

In some of the most sought-after coastal spots, the figure climbs much higher.

In Salthouse, 79 out of the village’s 157 homes - 50.3pc - is a second home or holiday home. In Morston, the figure is 47.7pc and in Blakeney, 43.3pc.

A call for action on the issue was launched by Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Withington in December last year.

Norfolk councillors have called on the government to review a law allowing second-home owners to avo

Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Withington - Credit: Archant

At a Wednesday (April 6) meeting of the district council’s overview and scrutiny committee, members looked over the details of how an investigation could be conducted.

Ms Withington said the council only had a “very anecdotal” understanding at the moment of the effects of having so many second homes in one place, and that more data would help clarify the situation. 

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She referred to holiday hotspots like Northumberland and the south west of England, each of which have taken different approaches to tackling the problems thought to be caused by second homes, such as increased house prices for local people.  

“There has been very little collaboration between those areas… so I think we need to have a look at what everybody is saying, and hopefully part of that will be sharing some understanding between us all as well,” said Ms Withington.

Conservative councillor Dr Victoria Holliday warned however against the council going into the study with a set of assumptions about second homes. 

Dr Victoria Holliday, North Norfolk District Council Coastal ward councillor. 

Dr Victoria Holliday, North Norfolk District Council Coastal ward councillor. - Credit: Dr Victoria Holliday,

Dr Holliday, who represents the district’s highly-touristed Coastal ward - covering Weybourne through to Stiffkey - said: “It feels almost pre-determined, that we’re assuming house prices and affordable rental homes are integral to this…

“It feels like we’ve got a hypothesis, and we’ve gone for the thesis without doing the antithesis bit, and it doesn’t feel quite right to me.”

Liberal Democrat councillor John Toye, who had seconded Ms Withington's call to action, insisted the study would remain open-minded, and would look at the benefits as well as the problems caused by second homes. 

The committee agreed that the council should proceed with the investigation.