The result of a referendum in a tourist hotspot seeking a ban on the sale of new-build flats and houses to second home buyers has been upheld by the High Court – and now a similar ban may be introduced in a string of other locations.
In early October a case was heard seeking a judicial review into the conduct of a referendum in May, in which residents of the Cornish port of St Ives were asked whether they wanted a ban on the sale of new-build properties to holiday home buyers.
More than 83 per cent of voters backed the plan – 3,075 in favour to 616 against; turnout was just over 47 per cent. But an architectural firm, RLT Built Environment Ltd, challenged the conduct of the poll held by Cornwall Council.
Now, some five weeks after the judicial review plea, the High Court has ruled that the process behind the referendum was valid and the result stands.
Publicity surrounding the ban has worried some estate agents who have reported reduced demand for properties in the port, because the ban is interpreted as suggesting holiday home buyers are not welcome – even though the measure applies strictly to new-build properties and not older cottages and houses.
“This is a hugely important judgement for Cornwall, St Ives Town Council and for the residents of St Ives who wanted to ensure that any new homes in the town would be the resident’s sole or main residence,” said Edwina Hannaford, the Cornwall Council cabinet member for planning.
“We also know that a number of other local communities, both in Cornwall and across the rest of the country, are also interested in including similar policies in their own neighbourhood plans and have been watching this case with interest”.
Other local authorities in the south west of England and in Wales – all from areas with high proportions of holiday home ownership – have contacted the St Ives and Cornwall councils to discuss the ban, and it is believed some may go ahead with similar proposals.
In St Ives it is believed that one in four residential properties is either a second home or a holiday let.