The area of England where 1 in 5 properties is a second home

·3-min read
Office buildings in the City of London. With large numbers of companies continuing to allow their staff to work from home, usually busy business districts are still quiet, and local shops and services are suffering as a result. Picture date: Wednesday August 5, 2020. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
The City of London had the highest number of second homes in England. (Getty)

More than one in five properties in the City of London are second homes, significantly higher than anywhere else in England, new data shows.

The latest council tax figures show 1,713 of the 7,636 homes in the City are second homes, equating to 22.43% of the total housing stock.

The next highest is North Norfolk with second homes accounting for 9.68% of housing stock, followed by Kensington and Chelsea with 8.97%.

In total there are almost 250,000 second homes in England.

Polperro, Cornwall, UK - July 5th, 2019: Tourists enjoying the summer sunshine at Polperro, Cornwall. Polperro is one of the most popular travel destinations in south west England.
Locals in Cornwall say the rise in people buying second homes has priced them out of the market. (PA)

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The City of London is unlike anywhere else in the UK, as the home of much of Britain's powerful financial sector it has a local authority that is not part of Greater London and is often accused of avoiding major legislative changes.

House prices have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic and the latest figures show this did not slow down in October, with 70% of estate agents reporting a price increase last month.

The topic of second homes has been hotly debated in recent years as the housing crisis makes getting onto the property ladder increasingly harder for many.

The debate has largely focused on popular holiday areas like Norfolk and Cornwall, with locals demanding tighter rules and caps on second homes as normal residents are priced out of the market.

The top 10 places with second homes are:

  • City of London – 22.43%

  • North Norfolk – 9.68%

  • Kensington and Chelsea – 8.97%

  • Isles of Scilly – 8.10%

  • South Hams – 7.58%

  • Scarborough – 6.94%

  • South Lakeland – 6.88%

  • Camden – 6.83%

  • Chichester – 5.39%

  • Cornwall – 4.78%

In September, the Eastern Daily Press reported the then-communities secretary Robert Jenrick was considering plans to allow councils to cap second home numbers.

Among the ideas proposed were tighter planning permission for second homes also used as holiday lets and insist developers build more starter homes.

In 2016, residents of the Cornish holiday town of St Ives voted to ban the purchase of second homes.

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Locals and the council had hoped this would mean houses became more affordable for locals, but a 2019 study by the London School of Economics found developers had been driven away by the policy limiting available supply.

The ban also only applied to new build properties meaning prime stock of older housing saw a surge in demand.

Professor Christian Hilber, who led the study, said: "In St Ives, where primary homes can easily be converted into second homes, demand has switched from new-build to existing homes and, possibly, to other nearby towns.

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"This has led to an increase in the price of existing homes as summer dwellers are competing for existing homes with local residents."

Other areas of Cornwall, as well as places like Norfolk, have watched the results in St Ives closely but have yet to propose a similar referendum.

Sarah Butikofer, the leader of North Norfolk District Council, told the Eastern Daily Press: "There's a fine balance. 

"[St Ives] stopped the second homes and any new homes being sold for second homes but all it did was inflate prices and mean that local families that wanted to live in character properties were priced out of those.

"Every action you take has another side to it."

She added that addressing housing shortages was a "hugely complicated issue".

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