Local example of Airbnb impact on stock of affordable homes

From a Budleigh correspondent:

I am sure that there are worst examples than this in villages and towns near you but this example in Budleigh Salterton demonstrates what is happening to the housing stock in beautiful Devon.

 We all have cottages built to house the manual workers in our neighbourhoods. Some are older than others. In the older villages in the Otter Valley, like East Budleigh, they were thatched, cob cottages. In later settlements, like Budleigh Salterton, they were Victorian terraces. They were mostly 2 up and 2 down with outside amenities. 

These, in the middle of the last century, were the first homes for many local youngsters. This was followed by the urban middle classes starting to buy up these properties for their holiday homes. Where now do the local youngsters go to live? Margaret Thatcher had allowed council housing stock to be sold off at a discount without replacement by the local authority. So we have fewer council houses, a disastrous scenario. The price of properties rocket. The contemporary “manual worker” earns a very basic wage and can’t afford to rent and definitely can’t afford to buy. We are told that new developments will supply affordable homes. And then what happens? In Budleigh 30 affordable homes on an estate is reduced to 5. How many affordable homes are there in Cranbrook? How many in the new estates of Exmouth?

But now in 2021 this has been made so much worse by the proliferation of Airbnb. Holiday rentals are at a premium, so kick out the long term tenants and make a tremendous killing with the holiday trade. Result that even the essential keyworker has nowhere to rent long term.

Budleigh Salterton has an interesting case. In Victorian times 2 blocks of red brick terraced cottages were built in Granary Lane, opposite the gas works. From the 1891  census we find one of the terraces, Jersey Cottages, had two dwellings with 9 people living in a 2-bedroomed cottage. Occupations of the males in the 12 cottages were predominantly labouring and the females were servants. 

We now see that an end of terrace cottage (with garage and extension) which sold in 2013 for £330,000 has just sold for £725,000. This is way beyond the affordability of a local youngster.

And to exacerbate the situation, local rumour has it that it was heard that “this will make a wonderful Airbnb”. Another loss to the local community and the community spirit of Granary Lane. And more importantly, another house less for permanent home ownership.

Bizarrely, holiday lets are required to have planning permission to convert into a permanent dwelling, but not the other way around. We need, as a matter of urgency, to have planning permission for permanent dwellings to convert to second homes and holiday lets.