Residents of a village known as “Chelsea-on-Sea” have voted to ban people from buying second homes in the area.
The village of Burnham Market in North Norfolk, sometimes referred to as “Chelsea-on-Sea” because of its popularity among Londoners, has voted to curb the construction and sales of new second and holiday homes.
It is estimated that one in four properties in Burnham Market is a second home and that the number of full-time residents has fallen by more than 20 per cent in the past two decades.
In a referendum, more than 80 per cent of 201 respondents supported a development plan that statesnewly built homes should not be used as second residences or holiday homes.
The plan says that proposals for new dwellings would only be supported if developers can guarantee the property will be the “occupant’s sole or main residence”.
This plan will now be taken into consideration by West Norfolk council when it is reviewing planning applications.
To ensure the new guidelines are enforced, the development plan says occupiers of homes with a “principal residence condition” will be required to provide authorities with proof that Burnham Market is their primary residence.
It also states that “there is a sense” among residents that the community – which attracts a large number of second-home owners – “needs rebalancing” in relation to the properties being built, shops and services that are available, and the “proportion of permanent residents compared to holidaymakers”.
Dennis Clark, the chairman of Burnham Market Parish Council, said he hopes that the vote would address the village’s housing needs.
He added: “Every house in Burnham Market received an invitation to vote in this referendum to approve the neighbourhood development plan. It started as a questionnaire for people in Burnham Market, who could select a preference for how the village should develop.
“A key issue is that houses built up for holiday lets – and they don’t pay council tax – are rented out but which do not make any contribution to the village.”
Mr Clark said that holiday homes, in particular, have contributed to increased property costs for residents.
Some locals have suggested that second-home owners should only be allowed in the area if they make an enlarged tax contribution.
Retired shop owner Sally Whitworth, 71, told MailOnline: “We should charge them three times the council tax. They should have to pay extra for rubbish collection,” she insisted.
Speaking in support of the ban, local resident Stephanie Worsley, 76, told MailOnline: “It’s important for people to be able to buy locally so we can keep local families here.”
She added: “It’s been a problem for a few years now. The prices have gone up because people who buy second homes can afford to pay for them.”
Local authorities in England are able to double council tax on unoccupied second homes to boost funding for local services for the first time under reforms introduced by Michael Gove, which came into force in April this year.
In recent years, a number of other towns have voted to curtail the number of holiday and second homes being built, including Whitby and Brighton where successful votes to that effect were held in 2022.
In 2018, 90 per cent of respondents in referendums in both Northumberland and Mevagissey voted to ban such developments.
More than 80 per cent of respondents in St Ives voted for a similar ban in 2016, which reportedly backfired as construction companies relocated to nearby towns, causing some house prices to rise for locals, according to a study by the London School of Economics (LSE).
West Norfolk council has been approached for comment.