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| 2 minutes read

Solving the housing crisis: every little helps

We have a housing crisis. There is no doubt about it. There are not enough homes, and most definitely not enough affordable ones. 

The latest statistical releases about homelessness, showed an annual increase of 14% of children living in temporary accommodation as of September 2023 to 142,490: personally as a mother of two young children, that figure has really played on my mind since they were released last month.

Building new homes, particularly affordable (in the truest sense of the word) ones, is the key way to help resolve that housing crisis. I hope that housing is at the forefront of policies of political parties as we approach the general election and that is why campaigns such as the NHF's #planforhousing are so important. However, building the estimated 340,000 new homes needed until 2031 to meet demand has its own challenges, is not an overnight remedy and alone is not the solution.

I am a firm believer that there are many solutions needed to help solve that crisis and that every little step forward can help the collective effort. That is why this weekend whilst enjoying some sunshine in Wales, I was interested to read about the launch of the public consultation on the implementation of Article 4 Direction for the Eryri National Park area

By way of background, the Welsh Government has introduced a number of housing reforms in recent years:

  • Tenure reform for rented properties with the introduction of occupation contracts from December 2022 under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016;
  • The power for local authorities to introduce higher discretionary council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties, up to 300%. Many local authorities have exercised this power; and
  • In 2022, amendments to planning law allowing planning authorities to introduce an Article 4 Direction to manage the use of houses as second homes and short-term holiday lets within communities. It is this power that Eryri National Park Planning Authority is seeking to use (and that Cyngor Gwynedd, the area of Gwynedd located outside Eryri National Park, has already consulted on with a view to implementing in September this year.)

Eryri National Park Planning Authority has just published a consultation that is open for six weeks, until 24 May 2024, about implementing this Direction. 

In summary, it would mean that anybody wishing to change the use of a property that is used as a main residence (at the time the Direction is implemented) to a second home, short-term holiday let or mixed-use would need to apply for express planning permission to do so. 

The idea is that by restricting  (not preventing) changes in use, there would be more properties available for housing for local people and that this would remain affordable. In its justification paper, the Authority recognises that the move would be unprecedented and therefore the effects of such a move cannot be fully predicted. However, it is hoped that this would be one move in the right direction to help meet the objectives of the Authority's Housing Strategy.

Although no final decision has been taken yet and won't be until after the consultation is closed and responses considered, I have to applaud the boldness of the Welsh Government and local planning authorities in considering a different approach. 

Every little step can help. 

Will those in power in England be as bold?


housing management, management agreements, occupancy agreements, rents and service charges, housing, housing crisis, planning reform