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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Controls on second homes reviewed
Bethlehem in Camarthenshire, west Wales
Plaid have called for a "mature debate" on holiday homes
Radical plans which would require second home buyers to apply for planning permission could be introduced in Wales to protect rural communities.

The proposals are under consideration by Exmoor National Park and could pave the way for a UK wide policy re-think.

Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd
Mr Llwyd welcomes the review
The move has been welcomed by Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd who has called for a "mature debate" in the hope that the guidelines could be applied in Wales.

If the proposals are approved the authority will become the first national park in the UK to stop outsiders from buying a holiday home in the region due to the sharp rise in property prices.

A recent survey has shown that the average house price in the national park, which lies on the Devon and Somerset border, is currently 187,603 representing an increase of 31.3% over the last three years.

Mr Llwyd said: "The language now being used in Exmoor is exactly the same issues as in Wales except that we have an added dimension in Wales of the language and the culture.

Racist

"What is interesting is of course it is fine for Exmoor to defend their community but in Wales when you try to say these things it is called racist by the Labour party."

"For a long while, I have been talking to people in other political parties and I really do ask them and I plead with them to come around the table and talk about the Exmoor suggestion and see if we can now bring it into Wales.

National Park officials have also stressed the need to focus on the issue which they claim is becoming of increasing concern in rural communities.

Chief Executive of the Association of National Parks Martin Fitton said: "It is a problem that has been with us for many years. When I started working in the countryside some 25 years ago we were talking about this so it is a genuine concern.

"The change, I suppose is saying that if people want to have a house that they live in less than six months a year then they will have to secure planning permission for that.


It raises very interesting questions about civil rights and people's rights to live anywhere in the UK of course but these issues need looking a

Martin Fitton, from the Association of National Parks

"Also if there is more than 10% of second homes in any area they would automatically refuse permission under the new principle.

"It raises very interesting questions about civil rights and people's rights to live anywhere in the UK of course but these issues need looking at."

The National Park Authority's new local plan which is not retrospective will be published in draft form for consultation next month and if approved could be in place by the end of next year.

Mr Fitton added: "I think we are going to have to think about the whole way in which we provide housing in the countryside because it is not just national parks but throughout the countryside where wages are low but house prices are rising faster than those wages.

So it is a problem and we are going to have to think about what sort of countryside we will want in the future and that's in Wales as well as the whole of the United Kingdom."

See also:

08 Aug 01 | Business
Property prices: county by county
16 Dec 99 | Scotland
Double tax for holiday home owners
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