National park chiefs bowed to pressure from Keswick and agreed to take a significant step towards tackling the Lake District’s twin problem of rising numbers of holiday lets and loss of homes for local residents.
>The change came after the Keswick Reminder highlighted a case in which three adjoining houses off Main Street were put up for sale with local occupancy clauses — despite TripAdvisor reviews showing they had been used as holiday lets for many years.
The case prompted councillor Tony Lywood, Keswick’s only representative on the Lake District National Park Authority, to call for the creation of an official list of dwellings with local occupancy clauses, which currently does not exist.
At its board meeting on Wednesday, the LDNPA’s deputy chief executive Stephen Radcliffe agreed to provide a definitive list by the end of this financial year in March, 2021.
“I think this is great but should be done sooner as we are leaking and leaching away our local occupancy houses,” said Mr Lywood.
He called for people who breached local occupancy clauses by using dwellings as holiday properties to be “named and and shamed,” adding: “This is a monumental, landmark moment for the Lake District National Park Authority.
“It is one of their primary measures to make sure we have real local communities with real local residents.
“From next year, every person in the national park will understand what their neighbours are allowed to do and equally what they are not allowed to do. They will be able to see if a property has a local occupancy clause on it and if it does — and it is being rented out as a holiday let — then this will be reported and enforcement action will be taken.”
He is now pushing for holiday let firms to include the requirement for properties not to have local occupancies on them in their terms and conditions.
Referring to the three houses for sale in Keswick, he told Wednesday’s meeting: “Well how would anyone know what is and what is not a local occupancy house?
“Despite numerous requests this authority still do not have a published definitive list of local occupancy dwellings. We are told that it is 20 per cent of our housing stock. How would we know? I hear that much of it is still on microfilm!
“We produce reports in biodiversity, on conservation areas, transport strategy, carbon emissions, on rights of way and planning policy and a host of other important issues but we still do not have a readily accessible database of local occupancy dwellings.
“It is a disgraceful situation for the Lake District national park to still not have a list of the very thing that is designed to protect our communities.
“At a time when in CA12 nearly 50 per cent of houses are now holiday lets, it is amazing to me that such a list is not readily available to councillors, members and the general public.
“We talk much about vibrancy of our communities but we don’t even know what dwellings are designated as local occupancy in those communities.”
He told the Keswick Reminder: “What is even more interesting is that every ‘local occupancy dwelling’ that goes to a holiday let is a financial loss to Allerdale Borough Council as they then go on a small business rate which over 90 per cent don’t pay because they are under £15,000 rateable value and therefore get a small business rate relief and pay no rates.”
Several Keswick town councillors praised him for his swift success.
Deputy mayor David Burn said: “The system I suppose is still open to abuse. Someone local could buy and when no one is looking could then rent them out. This is why it’s essential we have a list of properties to keep an eye on.”