New proposals will introduce a requirement for planning permissions for short term lets in tourist hot spots. 

New rules to give communities greater control over short-term lets in tourist hot spots, while also strengthening the tourism sector, have been unveiled by the Government this week.

A consultation published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will propose introducing planning permission for an existing home to start to be used as a short term let – helping support local people in areas where high numbers of holiday lets are preventing them from finding affordable housing.

It will also consider whether to give owners flexibility to let out their home for up to a specified number of nights in a calendar year without the need for planning permission.

Short-term lets are now a significant part of the UK’s visitor economy. They provide increased choice and flexibility for tourists and business travellers, and also those attending major sporting and cultural events.

The Government says it wants to ensure the country reaps the benefits of diverse and sustainable accommodation and support the visitor economy, while also protecting local communities and ensuring the availability of affordable housing to rent or buy.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said:

“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.

“I have listened to representations from MPs in tourist hot spots and am pleased to launch this consultation to introduce a requirement for planning permissions for short term lets.”

The new proposals come as the Department for Culture Media and Sport also launches a separate consultation on a new registration scheme for short-term lets.

The scheme aims to build a picture of how many short-term lets there are and where they are located, to help understand the impact of short-term lets on communities.

The DCMS consultation follows a call for evidence held earlier in the year, the results of which are published today and indicate broad support for a registration scheme across the sector.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

“This new world of ultra-flexible short term lets gives tourists more choice than ever before, but it should not come at the expense of local people being able to own their own home and stay local.

“The Government wants to help areas get the balance right, and today we have an incomplete picture of the size and spread of our short term lets market. This consultation on a national registration scheme will give us the data we need to assess the position and enable us to address the concerns communities face.”

The government says it has listened to calls from local people in tourist hotspots that they are priced out of homes to rent or to buy and need housing that is more affordable so they can continue to work and live in the place they call home. The proposed planning changes would support sustainable communities, supporting local people and businesses and local services.

The proposed planning changes would see a planning use class created for short term lets not used as a sole or main home, alongside new permitted development rights, which will mean planning permission is not needed in areas where local authorities choose not to use these planning controls.

Both of these measures are focussed on short term lets, and therefore the planning changes and the register will not impact on hotels, hostels or B&Bs.

The register of short term lets is being introduced through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the planning changes would be introduced through secondary legislation later in the year and would apply in England only.

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