Second homes and lack of affordable housing is pushing young people out of Derbyshire Dales, says councillor

The number of second homes and the lack of affordable housing is pushing young people out of the Derbyshire Dales and splitting up families, councillors claim.

By Eddie Bisknell
Monday, 1st August 2022, 4:50 pm

At a Derbyshire Dales District Council meeting on July 28 councillors talked about the growing expansion of second homes in the area and the “heartbreaking” impact caused by a lack of affordable housing.

There are said to be nearly 1,000 second homes in the Dales, accounting for one in every 34 homes in the district.

Cllr Peter Slack, who represents the Wirksworth ward, said: “Over the last number of years we have seen an increase in the Derbyshire Dales of small dwellings being acquired by people and companies and holiday lets which fall into the category of second homes.

New affordable homes are now available to rent in Bakewell.

“At the same time many young local people looking to acquire homes for the first time in their local areas near their families are being priced out of the market by people that are purchasing the dwellings as an investment and are also making a great deal out of re-letting the properties at inflated rates way above normal rents.

“Yes we do need tourists to visit the Derbyshire Dales but we have many good hotels, B&Bs and self catering holiday flats around the district.

“There is a great problem that young people have to leave their Derbyshire Dales to get onto the property ladder and in turn this leads to families being split and villages with less children to sustain schools and the community spirit diminishes.”

He said Whitby in Yorkshire had held a referendum on bringing in restrictions for second homes, saying there were widespread issues with second homes in Wales, Cornwall, Devon and Norfolk.

Coun Gary Purdy, Derbyshire Dales District Council leader, said the incident would not stop him continuing in his role

Cllr Slack said more controls were needed in the Dales to prevent the increase in second homes, with a 40 per cent increase nationally over the past four years.

Leader of the council, Cllr Garry Purdy, said: “I have raised my concerns on this issue in previous meetings. My favourite holiday spot in this country, Salcombe in Devon, has nearly 90 per cent second homes.

“Yes it would be good to see more controls to reduce the number of second homes within the Dales and give local people more opportunity to buy such properties.

“There are just under 1,000 second homes in the Derbyshrie Dales out of a total housing stock of approximately 34,000.

“The Derbyshire Dales has the 61st highest number of second homes of all English local authorities.

“There are very few controls available to local councils to control the number of second homes.”

He said plans were afoot which could see councils given more power to hike council tax on second homes, with the Dales already having approved plans to hike tax for empty homes by several hundred per cent – depending on how long they have been vacant.

Cllr Slack said: “This is a problem right through the villages as we short numbers of children in village schools and we see deserted villages in the middle of the week.”

Cllr Peter O’Brien, who represents Hathersage and Eyam, said: “Families and young people in the villages of Eyam and Hathersage and many other Peak District villages are in that position and have been pleading for more affordable housing for many years.

“I am sure you will agree that it is heartbreaking to hear those stories and to hear how they are being forced to move away.”

He said the Peak District National Park Authority, which oversees planning matters in half of the Dales, needed to be “part of the solution, not the problem” and to back affordable housing schemes in the area.

Cllr Purdy said: “About 10 years ago we lost an affordable housing scheme at Bonsall and I had to listen to mothers crying outside the village hall because certain people in the village, who had got money, took us to judicial review, which we eventually won, but by that time Nottingham Community Housing Association had lost the grant .

“As you know the provision of affordable housing has been a priority for both the council and myself as leader for many years.

“The council has a good track record in the delivery of new affordable homes, averaging 76 each year.”

He said the authority was in the process of providing its own council housing again after multiple decades and that it was giving its full support to projects in Eyam, Hathersage and in other villages.

Cllr O’Brien said: “In Hathersage and Eyam, where there may have been 76 affordable homes on average across the district there have probably been at least 76 families and young people who have had to move away from the two villages in the past 10 years due to the lack of affordable housing.”