blank
Connect with us

Tourism

Tourism leader challenges Welsh Government’s radical second homes rules

Published

on

The Welsh Government has been accused of disregarding the experience, expertise and livelihoods in the tourism industry with its radical programme, announced today, to address second homes issue in Wales.

Suzy Davies, Wales Tourism Alliance chair, has challenged the Welsh Government to face up the unintended consequences of its policy changes and says the contribution genuine tourism businesses make to the viability of communities is being ignored.

Advertisement

A recent change to the occupancy threshold needed for a holiday let to be treated as a business dismissed the majority view in the government’s own consultation as well as compelling evidence of harm to the professional furnished holiday let sector.

Her comments follow today’s announcement of new planning laws, a statutory licensing scheme and proposals to change land transaction tax in a package of measures to address second homes in Wales.

Mrs Davies said that, on the face of it, proposals reflecting a determination to distinguish between genuine businesses and second homes might be welcome, as would a form of registration which guaranteed quality. However, the recent experience over the 182-day occupancy threshold has left businesses disillusioned about the weight Welsh Government gives to their evidence.

Suzy Davies, Wales Tourism Alliance chair

There is no confidence that proposals will protect their status from being recognised. In the absence of detail, it is not clear where the distinctions will be drawn and whether any rules will be applied retrospectively. Further, there is no confidence that money raised through a licensing system would be used to enforce standards.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price set out the next steps in a programme of actions to help create thriving communities and to support people to afford a home.

The co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru includes a commitment to tackle the issue of second homes affecting many communities in Wales.

Advertisement

The package of measures includes:

  • Changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer, including three new planning use classes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities may require planning permission for change of use from one class to another and will also be able to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.
  • Plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. The Welsh Government says this will help raise standards across the tourism industry.
  • Local authorities will develop a national framework which will allow them to raise land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets in their local area. The Welsh Government has already given councils discretionary power to increase council tax premiums on second and empty homes and changed the rules on holiday lets taxation.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local
housing market.

“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”

Mrs Davies was not impressed by the announcement: “Welsh Government needs to mean what it says about unintended consequences and recognise that genuine tourism businesses contribute to the viability of communities,” she said.

“Whatever their aims, their unwillingness to address the unintended consequences of the policies they have already introduced hasn’t convinced the industry of their sincerity on this.

“Holiday let businesses are professionally run, often locally owned, employ local people, provide custom for local businesses and pay business premium for things like rubbish collection.

Advertisement

“However, across the whole of Wales, they have already been caught up as part of Welsh Government’s policy to control the separate, different issue of second home proliferation in some specific communities.

“Tourism providers recognise the worry about second homes but have grave reservations about how Welsh Government intends to resolve it. We are already nervous about the reference to a licensing scheme rather than a registration scheme; this has brought nothing but bureaucratic grief in Scotland.

“The Welsh tourism industry is as keen as Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru to see a prosperous, balanced visitor economy where tourism businesses are valued participants in their communities. Yet every announcement comes as a blow to the industry’s confidence as its experience, expertise and livelihoods are disregarded.”

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Neath Port Talbot

Free waterfall park and ride returns for the Summer

Published

on

By

A popular park and ride scheme aimed at easing tourist traffic congestion heading to waterfalls near Pontneddfechan in the Neath Valley is returning for the Summer.

Neath Port Talbot Council is working in partnership with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and local transport operators DJ Thomas and Forge Travel to reintroduce the free Waterfall Country Park Ride Service this summer.

Advertisement

Starting at Lancaster Close Car Park in Glynneath, the service will run on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday from Saturday 23rd July to Sunday 4th September 2022. 

Originally introduced in 2021, the Waterfall Country Park and Ride pilot project has been extended for a further two years with the aim of having a positive impact on the local community by easing intense visitor parking pressures in nearby Pontneddfechan, one of the main starting points for walks in Waterfall Country. It will also improve the visitor experience by avoiding the need to drive down crowded lanes and searching for space in very busy car parks. 

Visitors will be able to catch the service from the Lancaster Close Car Park and designated bus stops between Glynneath and the Village Hall in Pontneddfechan. 

In response to visitor feedback, this year will also see the introduction of a second bus service operating between Glynneath and Gwaun Hepste Car Park which is located within the National Park and is the starting point for the very popular Four Falls Trail. 

It is hoped that in addition to parking at Lancaster Close, visitors will take time to explore the town of Glynneath and the many independent shops and cafes that operate in the town.

Advertisement

Waterfall Country is a hugely popular visitor destination which hosts a range of beautiful waterfalls. In recent years the small villages within Waterfall Country have seen a huge increases in visitors, leaving the local community unable to cope with the number of cars attempting to park in the area.

Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “We are pleased to be able to extend the Waterfall Country Park and Ride pilot for an additional two years and to expand the service up to Gwaun Hepste Car Park. We wold urge visitors to make use of this free and convenient service and to be mindful of the impact that high levels of visitor traffic can have on local residents within Waterfall Country.”

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Chief Executive of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, added: “A range of ongoing measures have been implemented by our partners and ourselves to ease visitor pressures across Waterfall Country and the impact on local communities. Last year’s Park and Ride Service was a success and we are asking visitors to be mindful again this summer and utilise the service where possible, to assist our local communities.”

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Gower

Pembrokeshire and Gower both rank in Top 5 underrated UK staycation spots

Published

on

By

According to social media platform Reddit, Pembrokeshire and Gower Peninsular are two of the most underrated staycation spots to holiday in the UK this year.

Reddit has teamed up with Airbnb, English Heritage, Rough Guides, and Trainline to help Brits discover spectacular, yet underrated, staycation spots that are just a stone’s throw away.

Advertisement

Reddit is where people go to dive deep into their interests, hobbies, and passions, sharing real-life thoughts and perspectives and building community along the way; and, travel tips are no exception. In fact, we’ve seen a 34% increase year-over-year in conversations about UK travel destinations and holidays across Reddit.

The community makes Reddit a go-to hub for holiday-goers to chat and share real and unfiltered recommendations. Redditors are able to engage with other like-minded staycationers and ask hard-hitting questions about their potential trips… is it dog friendly? … suitable for little ones? … travelling alone?…what’s the food scene like?

Timed with the official summer holiday season, we’ve huddled with some of the leading travel resources and platforms in the UK, including Airbnb, English Heritage, Rough Guides, and Trainline, to share the ultimate guide for underrated summer travel spots. Whether people are itching to get off the beaten path, looking for short trips, or have an upcoming unplanned bank holiday to take advantage of, Reddit has them covered.

While a foreign, exotic holiday destination may often be the dream trip, if people know where to go, a UK staycation can offer just as much beauty, adventure, and luxury. And, it can often be the more sustainable choice as people can forgo flying and instead travel by train, bus or car – keeping their carbon footprints low and avoiding the hassle and stress that an airport often brings.

From beachy vibes on the Welsh coast to a Highland hike, there’s something for everyone on our list.

Advertisement

Based on conversations on Reddit, here are the best underrated staycation spots this summer as judged by Redditors – with some destinations also seeing search increases according to Airbnb:

  1. Bedfordshire, England
  2. The Highlands, Scotland
  3. Orkney Islands, Scotland
  4. Pembrokeshire, Wales
  5. Gower Peninsula, Wales
  6. Yorkshire England
  7. Lancashire, England

BEDFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND

Happily Bedfordshire has more to offer than £1 flights to Magaluf via. Luton Airport. This Redditor shared a few scenic snaps from Wrest Park in the quaint village of Silsoe, Bedfordshire; a magnificent 19th century French chateau style house set in an outstanding restored landscape garden originating in the 17th century.

According to their post, no matter their mood, they always feel more centred after a couple of hours wandering the grounds. Fun fact: Wrest Park’s grounds reflect three centuries of English garden design, including one of the few remaining early 18th century formal gardens.

People are starting to catch on; the number of visitors to Wrest Park has increased by 12% since 2019, according to English Heritage, with 2021 being its best ever year yet. Respectively, the latest statistics from Trainline shows that train travel to nearby Flitwick station has gone up by 174% this year. So get there quick!

‘Santina’ Shepherd’s Hut with hot tub & open views
Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/

Quirky 18th Century Thatched Cottage
Perry, United Kingdom

www.airbnb.co.uk

THE HIGHLANDS, SCOTLAND

The Highlands of Scotland covers the northern two-thirds of the country and holds much of the mainland’s most spectacular unspoilt scenery. So much so that this redditor was surprised to see that the Lochniver beach they used to visit as a child looks the exact same all these years later.  

The signature combination of mountains, glens, lochs and rivers, surrounded on three sides by a magnificently pitted and rugged coastline, guarantees wonderful moody views. While you’re in the Highlands there try wild camping in the region – as this redditors puts it: ‘it doesn’t get much better than this!’

Fort William is gaining in interest — having seen almost  130% increase in Airbnb searches over the past year.  In line with that, according to Trainline data, Fort William has seen a 146% in  train passengers over the past year. If you’re hoping to recharge make sure to check out the Corrour Estate – this redditor describes it as the perfect spot to disconnect as a solo traveller

 Rosie the Road Workers’ Living Wagon
Roy Bridge, Inverness-Shire


ORKNEY ISLANDS, SCOTLAND

Speaking of Scotland, they also boast a set of stunning and untouched islands.The Orkney islands are a unique and fiercely independent archipelago, and features in the Rough Guides reader survey as the most beautiful places in Scotland. In fact, according to data from Airbnb searches for the Orkney Islands have increased by over 120% in the last year.  

This wild life enthusiast spent an entire week on the islands and was so chuffed they took 1600 pictures – you can take a look at some of their top snaps on Reddit

Advertisement

For an Orcadian, the Mainland means the largest island in Orkney rather than the rest of Scotland, and their history is inextricably linked with Scandinavia. If you’re into your ancient civilizations this redditor in particular is raring to pay a visit and explore early Christian and late Druidic sites up there. 

Doehouse Cottage, Sandwick, Orkney
Orkney, Scotland

North Walls Kirk
Orkney, Scotland


PEMBROKESHIRE, WALES

‘Who needs holidays abroad when Wales exists?’ exclaims one redditor. The southern zigzag of the Pembrokeshire coast darts west from Tenby (one of the best holiday destinations in the UK according to this redditor) is a strange mix of caravan parks, Ministry of Defence shooting ranges, spectacularly beautiful bays and gull-covered cliffs. Insight from Trainline shows travel to the resort town has shot up by more than 50%. 

From Tenby, the coastal road passes through Penally, with its wonderful beach, and continues past idyllic coves, the lily ponds at Bosherston and the remarkable and ancient St Govan’s Chapel, squeezed into a rock cleft above the crashing waves. 

The ancient town of Pembroke really only warrants a visit to its impressive castle and the fine Bishop’s Palace in neighbouring Lamphey. 

“The Willow”
Pembroke, Pembrokeshire


GOWER PENINSULA, WALES

A fifteen-mile-long finger of undulating sandstone and limestone, Gower (Gŵyr) is a world of its own, pointing into the Bristol Channel to the west of Swansea. The winding lanes afford wonderful opportunities for exploration – in fact, not only will you find the most beautiful beaches in the world here, according to one redditor, but you’ll also find an up and coming to-die-for  gastro scene; with a mix of traditional pubs and modern bars too.

[Airbnb listing in Gower] 

The entire peninsula is fringed by sweeping yellow bays and precipitous cliffs, with caves and blowholes to the south, and wide, flat marshes and cockle beds to the north. Bracken heaths dotted with prehistoric remains and tiny villages lie between, and there are numerous castle ruins and curious churches lurking about. 

Hidden Gem – Cosy, Modern Cottage w/Log fire
Gower, Swansea

Advertisement

YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND

It’s easy to be glib about Yorkshire – to outsiders it’s the archetypal “up North” with all the clichés that implies, from flat caps to grim factories. For their part, many Yorkshire locals are happy to play up to these prejudices, while nursing a secret conviction that there really is no better place in the world to live.

In some respects, it’s a world apart, its most distinctive characteristics – from the broad dialect to the breathtaking landscapes – derived from a long history of settlement, invention and independence. Make your way to the rural market town of Otley, just north of Leeds; the perfect spot for amazing views, dog friendly walking trails and pubs according to one redditor.

If you find yourself in the south of the county stop by Roche Abbey – a 12th century now-ruined abbey situated in a valley landscaped by renowned gardener and landscape architect, ‘Capability Brown’ in the 18th century. The site has one of the most complete ground plans of any English monastery and the Gothic transepts still remain to their original height. 

One redditor was sizing up the location for an upcoming race, and was pleased he brought his camera along to capture the beautiful site… and they’re not the only ones! The abbey has seen somewhat of a resurgence this past year, reaching its highest levels of popularity since 2005 according to English Heritage. The closest train station is Conisborough, where the number of passengers has grown by 74% since 2021. 

As for Yorkshire’s other boasts (the beer’s better, the air’s cleaner, the people are friendlier) – anyone who spends any time here will find it hard to argue with those.

Robin Hood’s Bay Coastguard’s Cottage with a View
North Yorkshire, England


LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND

The historical county of Lancashire reached industrial prominence in the nineteenth century primarily due to the cotton-mill towns around Manchester and the thriving port of Liverpool.

Today, neither city is part of the county, and Lancashire’s oldest town, and major commercial and administrative centre, is Preston, though tourists are perhaps more inclined to linger in the charming towns and villages of the nearby Ribble Valley.

Along the coast to the west and north of the major cities stretches a line of resorts – from Southport to Morecambe – which once formed the mainstay of the northern British holiday. Only Blackpool is really worth visiting for its own sake, a rip-roaring resort which has stayed at the top of its game by supplying undemanding entertainment with more panache than its neighbours. 

Advertisement

If you’re after a super non-obvious place these two redditors are gushing over the town of Ormskirk, for being the perfect central location to anywhere in the North West.  Data from Trainline shows that the number of passengers travelling to the town have increased by 127% in the last year.

Charming Garden Pod Couple/family with Hot tub
Forton, England


If you’re looking for more recommendations, travel conversations most frequently take place in the following subreddits: 

… or people  can easily search directly on Reddit. You can try some of these easy-to-use search templates to find the best Reddit travel suggestions:

  • “Yorkshire” and “travel” 
  • “Gower Peninsula” and “holiday”
  • “UK” and “staycation” 
  • “Scotland” and “camping”  
  • “England” and “beach” 
  • “UK” and “solo travel”
  • “Wales” and “trip”
  • “Yorkshire” and “break”
Continue Reading

Tourism

New planning rules and licensing scheme for second home and holiday accommodation in Wales

Published

on

By

The Welsh Government have announced new planning laws, a statutory licensing scheme and proposals to change land transaction tax as part of a package of measures aimed at addressing numbers of second homes in Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price set out the next steps in a programme of actions to help create thriving communities and to support people to afford a home, in a joint press conference today (Monday 4 July).

Advertisement

The Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru includes a commitment to tackle the issue of second homes affecting many communities in Wales.

The package of measures being announced today includes changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer. These will introduce three new planning use classes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities, where they have evidence, will be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another. The will also be changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.

Also announced were plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. The Welsh Government say this additional regulation will help raise standards across the tourism industry.

Following a consultation about varying land transaction tax (the Welsh version of Stamp Duty) locally in areas with large numbers of second homes, the Welsh Government announced that work will start today (Monday 4 July) with local authorities to develop a national framework so they can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local area.

The Welsh Government say they have already introduced a range of measures to address the issue of second homes, including giving councils the discretionary power to increase council tax premiums on second and empty homes and it has changed the rules on holiday lets so owners and operators make a fair contribution to their local communities.

Advertisement

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are today setting out the next steps in a radical programme to ensure everyone has the opportunity to afford to live in their local community – whether that’s buying or renting a home.

“We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities – a country where people do not have to leave to find good and rewarding work and a country which people want to come to visit and to live.

“Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.

“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said: “We are committed to using a range of planning, taxation and property levers to tackle the issue of second and unaffordable homes – and to do so with urgency.

Advertisement

“The package of purposeful measures that have been developed as a result of the constructive cooperation between Plaid Cymru and the Government in this area will, together, begin to address the injustices in our housing system and make a real difference to people and communities right across our nation.

“The aim is to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’– the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News