Whitby residents vote in favour of ending second home ownership
Residents in Whitby have voted in favour of new measures to reduce the number of homes being used for holiday accommodation.
Large queues snaked outside polling stations as locals voted to end second home ownership in an unusual referendum on Monday, with a total of 2,228 people casting their vote.
A significant 2,111 voted in favour of all new-build and additional housing in the area being restricted to being a full-time primary residence.
Just 157 voted against the measure and 18 ballots were rejected, it was announced at midnight.
In 2021, around 20% of residences in Whitby were second homes or holiday lets, according to Scarborough Borough Council.
The figure has almost doubled in the coastal town in the last two decades, with 8.1% of properties being second homes or holiday lets in 2001.
Social media users have been reacting to the vote results, with one person tweeting: “Good for Whitby. The locals need affordable housing and if the town gets swamped by rich Londoners the real estate will be unaffordable and locals move out.”
Another said: “Power to the residents. Too many local towns on the coast are being swamped by COMPANIES buying houses up to rent out.”
Residents were asked a second question in the poll – resulting in 1,982 people rejecting plans to stay in the same area committee as Scarborough in the new North Yorkshire unitary council.
This compared with 253 residents who were happy to remain in the same area committee as Scarborough.
The results of the vote, which saw just under a 23% turnout, do not carry any legal weight, but represent the views of the population and could help shape local planning considerations with a mandate to crack down on second-home ownership.
Whitby’s town mayor, Councillor Linda Wild, told Sky News that the result “demonstrates the importance of this issue for local people and the depth of feeling of being crowded out of affordable housing by an overabundance of second homes and holiday lets which can be in the hands of unscrupulous landlords”.
She said the power to tackle the issue lies with the borough council – which is making attempts to confront the problem – as well as the government, “which needs to amend the planning regulations to make it possible to protect local housing for primary residence”.
“We need a ‘use class’ which applies to holiday lets. Then the planners can manage that change of use. We also need to tax second homes and holiday homes more effectively through council tax and business rates to reflect the impact they have on local people,” she said.
She said she hopes the town council will “take up this fight and invite our neighbouring parishes to join in”.
“For the holidaymakers, Whitby is bigger than the parish boundary. I hope that people in Sandsend, Sleights, Sneaton and Stainsacre feel this is a campaign for them too,” she continued.
“Whitby is not unique in this predicament and local people want their voice heard by the government alongside people from Cornwall, North Norfolk, Northumberland and the Lakes.
“We absolutely need the government to give local people the power to keep holiday resort communities sustainable.”