‘We do not need more second homes’ - new calls to support locals in coastal town

The warm glow of sunrise over the harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea on a cold January morning. Picture:

The warm glow of sunrise over the harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea on a cold January morning. Picture: Peter Kent - Credit: Peter Kent

A blueprint for a Norfolk town where nearly a third of properties are either second or holiday homes sets out proposals on how it can thrive in future years.

Wells town councillor Roger Arguile.

Wells town councillor Roger Arguile. - Credit: Submitted

Wells Town Council is preparing a Neighbourhood Plan under the Localism Act 2011 to have more say on the future.

Town councillor Roger Arguile, who is chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, has prepared a briefing document for the local authority to discuss, as part of the plan.

The document proposes how the town can continue to thrive by providing housing, both owned and rented, for key workers, service providers, local people and young families.

It also looks at the problem of second and holiday homes in the area, and calls for more housing for local people rather than for more second homes.

Figures show that about 31pc of properties in Wells are second or holiday homes, compared to 21pc five years earlier.

And after once having the highest number of council houses per population in England, the number of affordable homes has also fallen.

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Mr Arguile said: “We hope to produce a Neighbourhood Plan that secures the future of Wells as a vibrant community.

“As someone put it bluntly, we do not need any more second homes, we need more housing for local people.

“Second/ holiday homes is a problem that is widespread across north Norfolk.

“It increases the prices for all houses, and people are not able to stay here. Prices have risen by five times and more in 20 years.”

Mr Arguile said that about 950 people were queuing for public housing in Wells.

He added: “The net effect is to squeeze people out. Many cannot afford local housing and do not qualify for rental through housing associations.

“Even street fronting cottages without parking facilities are in heavy demand.

“Between holiday and retirement homes for the well-off and welfare housing for the most deprived, there is a decreasing availability of housing for those who have lived here for all or most of their lives.”

He said the document was just for discussion and the town council had not been asked to approve it.