Second homes hotspot locals could get first refusal on properties

Image source, Photos by R A Kearton
Image caption,
Second homes have driven up prices in popular seaside towns like Criccieth, Gwynedd

Locals in tourist areas in Wales could get first refusal on homes sold nearby amid concerns some people are being priced out of their communities.

The "fair chance scheme" will allow properties to be marketed locally only for a fixed period.

The measure is part of a plan to protect Welsh as a community language, the Welsh government said.

But the Tories said the move appeared to promote "discrimination" against non-Welsh speaking house buyers.

Welsh government Language Minister Jeremy Miles said: "For the Welsh language to thrive, we need sustainable communities.

"What we want to do as part of this plan is to highlight to sellers that they have other options... I'm sure that this toolkit is going to look different from community to community," he told Radio Cymru's Dros Frecwast programme.

The Welsh government said it would work with estate agents to help people buy in their local area.

There will also be support for social enterprises and community housing co-operatives, as well as steps to protect Welsh place names.

A new commission for Welsh-speaking communities will also be set up, which will bring together experts to make policy recommendations to protect and strengthen the Welsh language.

"Through our Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan, and the Commission for Welsh-speaking Communities we're announcing today, we and our partners will work together with communities where Welsh is the main language and help them develop plans which protect their identity and our language," added Mr Miles, who is also minister for education.

The measures will not be imposed and will be taken "in line with local communities' aspirations", he added.

'Completely unacceptable'

Janet Finch-Saunders, who speaks for the Welsh Conservatives on housing, said the approach "appears to be promoting discrimination against house buyers who do not speak Welsh".

"This is, of course, completely unacceptable. Immediate clarification on this policy is needed from the Labour government."

She accused ministers of "only delivering half of the homes Wales needs" to meet demand.

"This is Labour's housing crisis and they are failing to deliver for local communities across Wales."

The Welsh government has already announced councils can charge a second home premium of up to 300% from April 2023.

Last month, as part of a co-operation agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh government announced further plans for new planning laws, a licensing scheme for visitor accommodation and proposals to change land transaction tax in areas with large numbers of second homes.