Second homes. A complex subject.

Every so often in Cornwall, second home owners are portrayed as Dr.Evil. But is it really as simple as this? After all, many second home owners were born and brought up in Cornwall, but forced to leave the county to go to university and/or to find work. Having worked hard and been successful, although their work prevents them from moving back to Cornwall full-time, they find themselves in a position to be able to afford a (second) home in the place of birth, so that their children can also know Cornwall and spend some time growing up here. Is that really criminal?

And what about the huge swathes of our workforce who would find themselves out of a job overnight if every second-home owner was made to feel unwelcome? Building contractors, architects, holiday letting agents, cleaners, etc etc. Second homes in coastal locations such as Cornwall is not a new phenomenon. And as such our economy is now heavily weighted toward the sector. If you doubt this, have a look around at how many holiday-letting firms there are now in Cornwall. Banning second home owners, or at the very least making them feel that they have committed a crime, smacks of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Some politicians and councillors seem to think they have found a solution, but the reality tells us different. St.Ives was the first council to pass a proposal voted to ban any planning consent for new properties to be used as anything other than a main residence. And within weeks, the price of existing houses in prime locations went up. Surely not the intention?!  Yet again, is the lesson here to not manipulate markets. It probably seemed a good idea to many at the time, but any experienced estate agent would have likely warned (if asked!) what the real consequences could be.