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16 Feb 24

A bid to make three Northumberland holiday cottages available as permanent private residences has been rejected by planners.

At a time when many elements of the private rental sector are being blamed for allowing short lets and holiday accommodation to diminish the stock of permanent homes, the planners at Northumberland council ironically have refused consent for the change of use – because it would reduce tourist amenities.

The Northumberland Gazette reports that the cottages in question form part of the Morpeth Caravan Site which is currently restricted to holiday use only in line with a previous planning permission.

Now applicant Glen Fahy wants the option to have the homes designated as permanent homes – at least potentially, even if they remain in use as holiday lets.

Fahy has told the council the his current holiday let business was “only marginally profitable” and that getting consent for the three cottages’ use as permanent homes would unlock potential borrowing. Currently, lenders are refusing to do so because of the restriction to holiday use.

The Gazette reports that Fahy told the local planning committee: “The site is, and has always been, a brownfield site. It is outside the greenbelt in the Northumberland Local Plan. It is our only source of income. The cottages are built on land attached to our own garden, and we have no intention of selling them off for a profit.”

Only two out of eight councillors on the committee supported the change – one of those two told colleagues that Fahy had only £13,000 to £19,000 income a year for running three holiday cottages.

The councillor added: “I think that is below viable. These have been there a long time, it’s not a clever ruse there has been a genuine attempt to make them work. I have a lot of sympathy for them, it’s effectively making them do a lot of work for less than minimum wage.”

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