It’s great to be back in Parliament again after the summer recess and I am especially looking forward to working on one of the biggest issues facing both North Cornwall and the country – housing. It’s an issue I understand from personal experience, and one I encounter daily as your Member of Parliament. I don’t think any one group of people or policies is to blame, and it is an extremely complex issue that won’t be solved by any single idea alone. We need to approach this from a number of angles and think creatively about solutions, but I am confident that the new planning legislation which is due to return to the House of Commons this autumn will be at the heart of it.
It’s vital that we support those in rented accommodation that is being turned into holiday lets or Airbnb’s and help local people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder. Housing supply is obviously led by demand, which is continually on the rise and it is a fair assessment to say the UK has not built enough homes over the last forty years; however, we have to ensure that housebuilding benefits local people and that any developments maintain and enhance communities. I know from experience that residents are less likely to oppose developments that are in keeping with the local area and that are likely to benefit the community.
I have raised this issue in the Chamber of the House of Commons on several occasions in the past and continue to do so in private with Ministers on a regular basis. I have also invited the Housing Secretary for a meeting to discuss this with me, the other Cornish MPs, and Cornwall Council Leader Linda Taylor. Part of the solution must be to reform planning to increase the supply of homes, but we also need to consider other ideas. We could allow local authorities to put main residency conditions into planning permissions, try and create more incentives for landlords to rent homes to locals rather than to tourists, and much else besides. We must also change how we collect information on holiday lets and second homes. I believe the upcoming planning reforms are one of our best opportunities to enact some of these changes.
Thinking long-term, we also need to continue growing and diversifying our local economy to try and ensure local wages match those elsewhere in the country. This will make it more difficult for people living and earning outside Cornwall to outspend local people here.