British seaside town approves second homes ban

6th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Residents of an English seaside town regularly swamped by tourists in the summer have voted for a ban on new holiday homes, in a referendum that could set a precedent for similar picturesque spots.

People in St Ives in Cornwall, known for its sandy beaches and fishermen's cottages, have complained about a surge in construction of new holiday homes and a shortage of affordable housing.

The ban on new housing other than "principal homes" was approved by 83.2 percent in Thursday's vote, one of a series of local and regional elections in Britain, final results showed on Friday.

"The aim is to provide housing to meet a local need," councillor Rita Lait told St Ives Community TV ahead of the vote on the "Neighbourhood Development Plan".

The text of the plan said that "while tourism is currently the prime economic driver in the St Ives area, it is placing pressure on local residents and communities."

"A balance needs to be struck," read the document, which said that young people were being forced to leave because of the high prices in the southwest English town.

It cited statistics from 2011 showing that a quarter of houses in and around St Ives were not occupied year-round -- a 67 percent increase from 2001.

Cornwall Council's cabinet member for planning Edwina Hannaford was quoted by the BBC as saying that St Ives could be one of many places in the country to bring in similar measures and that the local authority would promote bans in other towns.

St Ives has a population of around 11,000 people.

It became popular as an artists' retreat in the 1920s and inspired Virginia Woolf's novel "To The Lighthouse".

Leading sculptor Barbara Hepworth lived in the town from 1949 until her death in 1975.

© 2016 AFP

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