St Ives residents, in protest against second homes, hold referendum

Residents of the Cornish port of St Ives, beloved of artists, surfers and beach lovers, are going to the polls this week in a referendum that may restrict second home ownership, according to an article in The Guardian.

About 12,000 parishioners will be able to vote this Thursday on whether to approve a plan that includes a provision that new-build housing projects would only be given planning permission if they are reserved for people who live in St Ives and surrounding areas full time.

Supporters of the idea argue that the housing market is out of control, pricing locals out of St Ives because second homeowners have pushed the prices up to an unaffordable level. They say this has eroded the sense of community in the area.

Critics of the provision believe it could increase the demand for existing houses, which would not fall under the policy, forcing prices up and putting even more smaller and affordable homes way out of the reach of local people.

Andrew Mitchell, a town councillor and supporter of the policy, insisted that it was not about keeping outsiders out. “The policy would only affect new builds. This policy is to curb excessive development based on financial, speculative grounds and provide community local need development,” he said.

St Ives town council says one-quarter of residential properties were classed as second homes in 2011, a two-thirds increase since 2001. Over more than two years, the council and a team of volunteers have worked on the plan. If the plan is accepted, the Cornwall council will be legally obliged to follow it when it make planning decisions.

Planning Barrister - myBarrister