Could a referendum be held on second homes in north Norfolk?
- Credit: Antony Kelly
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker has welcomed a North Yorkshire town's efforts to raise the issue of second homes after residents voted to restrict the sale of new-build properties.
A referendum held in Whitby on Monday (June 13) saw 93pc of residents vote to limit the sale of new-builds and additional homes to full-time residents.
The poll had a turnout of 23pc with 2,111 voting 'yes' and 157 voting 'no'.
The result of the referendum is not legally binding, but it could help inform future planning decisions.
Mr Baker said that he would not say whether or not a similar ballot should be held in north Norfolk - but that any measures for dealing with the impact of second homes would have to be tested for their impact on the community.
"You have to be careful when you implement policy changes. There are often unforeseen outcomes," he said.
His reaction was echoed by Wendy Fredericks, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC)'s portfolio holder for housing and benefits, who said that any referendum would need to be "really carefully considered".
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She said that an investigation into the impact of second homes in the district, launched in April by NNDC, will be published in July.
"I'm not ruling out a referendum but we've got to first get all the information and the data, then we could have a more informed referendum which might effect actual meaningful change," she said.
She said it was important that the council listens to residents but that a referendum "which has no information or not aware of unintended consequences can be detrimental to a clear path going forward".
In 2016, a vote in St Ives in Cornwall led to restrictions on new builds being sold as second homes.
Ms Fredericks said there was a danger that such restrictions could push up the price of older properties.
North Norfolk alone has almost 5,400 second homes - the highest proportion in England and Wales outside of London.
In Salthouse, 79 out of the village’s 157 homes - 50.3pc - are second or holiday homes. In Morston, the figure is 47.7pc and in Blakeney, 43.3pc.
In April, the government announced the from 2024 local councils will be given powers to increase council tax by 100pc on second homes which owners do not live in or let out for at least 70 days a year.