Retirees behind district's soaring housing prices, report finds

Newbuild housing going up in Norfolk, inset, North Norfolk District Council

Newbuild housing going up in Norfolk, inset, North Norfolk District Council chief executive Steve Blatch. - Credit: Archant / Chris Bishop

It is retirees rather than second or holiday home owners that are mostly driving north Norfolk's soaring property prices, a new report claims. 

Members of North Norfolk District Council's overview and scrutiny committee discussed the 'Second Homes and Holiday Lets' report at their meeting on Wednesday.

Steve Blatch, the authority's chief executive, said concerns around the number of homes not used as main residences were not unique to north Norfolk. 

Mr Blatch said: "Many of the national parks, Devon and Cornwall and the Cotswolds experience similar challenges and the report helpfully details some of that context.

Houses under construction in north Norfolk.

Houses under construction in north Norfolk. - Credit: Chris Bishop

"[The report] says that as an authority, we are open-minded about legislation which might be introduced through the council tax and planning systems to try and manage the situation moving forward.”

Councillor Wendy Fredericks, NNDC's Liberal Democrat portfolio holder for housing and benefits, pointed the finger at the Tory government over the shortage of affordable homes.

Ms Fredericks said: "The main issue is the consistent lack of investment from central government to deliver affordable homes for local people.

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"As a district council, we need money for land to build and manage affordable homes.

I would, however, ask if there are landowners who have land and wish to provide homes for their communities to come and talk to us.”

The report's key findings include:

-There is neither a clear positive or negative impact from second homes and holiday homes on the overall housing market, which is in line with other authorities.

-North Norfolk had 7,169 second and holiday homes (as of April 1, 2022).

-Second homes represented 8pc (4,508) of council tax homes.

-Holiday homes represented 4.5pc (2,661) of all homes , meaning council tax homes plus holiday homes liable for business rates.

-North Norfolk has the second highest proportion of second homes in England after the City of London and one of the highest in terms of total numbers.

-The district's changing demographics is the main driver of the housing market. People aged 65+ made up 32pc of the population, many of whom are coming to the district to retire.

But the report concludes that there may be "some local effects" on the property market from the number of second and holiday homes. 

The council says it charges 100pc council tax on most second homes. 

Tourism: Boosting the area

Although many see second and holiday homes as a reason why it is difficult for families to get on the housing ladder, others are quick to point out the benefits tourism brings to north Norfolk.

In 2019, tourism contributed £529 million to the district's economy and provided employment for an estimated 11,898 people - around 20pc of the district's total jobs. 

The council's report says the trend toward self-contained holiday accommodation may be contributing to the increased numbers of second and holiday homes.

NNDC's housing policies focus on delivering new, and in particular affordable housing.

The report also evaluated potential population growth, the district’s age profile, median house prices in the district, the rented private sector, affordable housing, revenues and council tax, non-domestic (business) rates, planning, the community and economy.