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11 Jul 24

A council is next week considering a move which is seen as a trigger for wider national policy changes regarding Airbnbs and other short lets.

A report to be considered by Gwynedd council’s cabinet on July 16 recommends confirming the implementation of Article 4 Direction to control the use of houses as second homes and holiday accommodation.

If agreed this would enable the council, as the local planning authority, to require property owners to obtain planning permission before changing the use of a main home into a second home or short-term holiday accommodation. The change would come into effect rapidly, from September 1.

The council held a consultation on the introduction of the Article 4 Direction during August and September 2023. 

A council spokesperson says: “Gwynedd wants to ensure that local people able to access suitable and affordable housing locally – that is key to securing the future of our communities. Unfortunately, research shows that a significant proportion of people in Gwynedd are priced out of the housing market and that is more evident in communities with higher numbers of holiday homes.

“It is therefore inevitable that the significant number of houses being used as second homes and short-term holiday accommodation is affecting the ability of the people of Gwynedd to access homes in their communities.  

“By introducing an Article 4 Direction, the Council would have a new tool to try to control the impact of second homes and holiday accommodation. The change would require owners to submit a planning application for changing the use of residential properties into second homes or short-term holiday accommodation.

“Should the council decide to go ahead, Gwynedd would become the first planning authority to use these new planning powers introduced by the [Welsh] Government. Detailed work has been carried out over the past year to set out the case for the change to be made and we are very grateful to everyone who took part during the public engagement period.”

The Welsh Government has introduced radical changes to the planning framework, giving local authorities power to manage future numbers of second homes and short-term lets.

Changes to the national planning framework have seen the introduction of three new classes of use – main home, second home and short-term accommodation. 

Each local planning authority has the power to decide whether planning permission is required to change from one use class to another by removing permitted development rights. The introduction of an Article 4 Direction allows the removal of these rights. If confirmed, Gwynedd council will be responsible for implementing it.

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