New use class proposed for short term lets

Planning Consultant Anthony Cogan discusses the amendments to the Levelling Up Bill in April which proposes that certain types of short-term holiday let be brought within a new use class.

Currently, the use classes order does not differentiate between a residential dwelling and a holiday let.

Whilst it is acknowledged that short-term lets have played a role in supporting the visitor economy of areas, this has been at the expense of the availability and affordability of homes for local residents.

It was estimated that circa 148,000 properties in England were being used as short-term lets. Properties used for short-term letting may help to support tourism, but conversely within tourist hot spots they decrease the supply of property available for residential occupation.  

Michael Gove (Levelling Up Secretary) in announcing the proposed amendments stated: “Tourism brings many benefits to our economy, but in too many communities we have seen local people pushed out of cherished towns, cities and villages by huge numbers of short-term lets. I’m determined that we ensure that more people have access to local homes at affordable prices, and that we prioritise families desperate to rent or buy a home of their own close to where they work.”

The Government propose to introduce a new use class for short-term lets. 

Proposed Use Class

If enacted, the new use class will give local authorities the power to consider whether (having regard to local circumstances) it is appropriate to allow the use of a dwelling for short-term letting purpose. A short-term let likely to be defined as “use of a dwelling house that is not a sole or main residence for temporary sleeping accommodation for the purpose of holiday, leisure, recreation, business or other travel”.

Changes of this nature do not seek to retrospectively control properties already in use for short-term let, it would however (if enacted) require dwellings which are currently used as an individual’s sole residence to secure planning permission for short-term letting.

It is likely that property owners will be able to let properties temporarily in the calendar year for holiday use. In Greater London there is already a 90-day limit in any one year. It seems likely that a similar time period would be applied throughout England if the use class change is enacted.

Permitted Development Rights

As with many controls of this nature, it will be those areas which are tourist hotspots and/or have an undersupply of housing land who are most likely to wish to see control imposed. It is thus possible that new permitted development rights will sit in tandem with the new use class order allowing a change of use between a dwelling and a holiday let. It will however be open for Local Authorities to restrict permitted development rights (Article 4 direction) where a case can be justified to impose restrictions.

David Jones, Head of Planning at Evans Jones commented:

“For those areas with high tourist demand it remains to be seen whether controlling holiday use will actually be beneficial. In many areas tourism is the primary source of employment and a significant local revenue generator. If holiday accommodation is restricted, then this could drive up the cost of unrested short term lets and/ or limit the number of visitors to an area. Both options may well negatively impact local revenue and in so doing, remove job opportunities for local people. 

A better solution would be to improve the supply of affordable housing in tourist hot spots for local people, maintaining the tourist trade, but provide affordable homes for local people to live".

About Evans Jones:

Evans Jones is a property consultancy, with offices in Cheltenham, Reading and London which has been in practice for over 50 years. Evans Jones provides professional consultancy services to the commercial sector in the areas of Town PlanningConstruction, Development, Building ConsultancyDisabled Access Consultancy (Equality Act) and legal obligations associated with construction and development. 

Clients include: Ashford District CouncilHSBCTravelodgeNFU Mutual, British Airways, UCAS, University of GloucestershireLiverpool City CouncilNHS Foundation Trust, Clarks Shoes, Bovis Homes, Midcounties Co-Operative, British WaterwaysSevern Trent Water, Crest Nicholson, Cheltenham College and Cheltenham Ladies College.