May 12, 2023 9:22 AM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Today, during a debate on small and medium-sized housing developers in Westminster Hall, Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has asked for their help in tackling the housing crisis.

Tim pointed out that too many new homes simply end up as Airbnbs, second homes and investments. He shocked fellow MPs by revealing that there are currently 8,384 short-term lets available in Cumbria - 75% of which are on Airbnb - but only 232 long-term lets available for local families.

Tim explained that this was one reason why planning authorities are reluctant to grant permission for new developments: "The concern of planning boards is about what happens to the properties after they have been built. Many of those houses will just end up as holiday lets and second homes, not affordable homes for local people."

Currently, local authorities are forced to negotiate with developers for a proportion of their development to be affordable housing. This figure often does not reach over 30%, and with the average property price in the South Lakes being 12 times the average yearly salary affordable housing is desperately needed for rural communities to survive.

Continuing, Tim said: "My concern is that we should build for need and not demand. I would like to encourage developers to be on our side in campaigning for the houses that we actually need to be built rather than those that would just turn a profit".

Tim spoke of the collapse of the long-term rental market within the Lake District and the impact of this on the wider community and economy with businesses struggling to find staff as they have nowhere to live. He described the phenomenon as a 'Lakeland clearances'.

Tim requested the government consider three things and has asked for developers support in achieving them. They are:

  • To make changes in planning law so short-term lets are a separate category of planning which can be limited,
  • To introduce another category of planning for second homes,
  • Finally, to give local authorities the power to build new council houses and to make sure they remain within the social sector with 100% affordability.

He finished by saying: "My plea to the small and medium sized developers - and developers of all kinds - is, I want you to care as much as I do about what happens to your homes after they have been built."