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Council tax could DOUBLE for second home owners who do not use them enough

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Council tax could be doubled for second home owners who do not use them enough, under Queen’s Speech plans to get Boris Johnson back on track.

Local authorities are expected to be handed discretionary powers to hike charges when properties are not either regularly used or let out by their owners for at least 70 days per year.

Vacant property has become a festering issue in prime beauty spots, with locals frustrated at soaring prices preventing permanent residents getting on the housing ladder.

Tories fear that such resentment is part of a toxic mix that helped the Lib Dems make significant council elections gains in the so-called ‘Blue Wall’.  

A government source told the Telegraph that wealthy owners who leave homes unused will be expected to contribute to ‘crucial services in a way that can really benefit the whole community and boost levelling up’. One option would be to deploy the revenue to cut council tax. 

Vacant property has become a festering issue in prime beauty spots, with locals frustrated at soaring prices preventing permanent residents getting on the housing ladder. File picture of Looe in Cornwall - it is not known whether any of the properties are holiday lets

Vacant property has become a festering issue in prime beauty spots, with locals frustrated at soaring prices preventing permanent residents getting on the housing ladder. File picture of Looe in Cornwall – it is not known whether any of the properties are holiday lets

Boris Johnson will be hoping that the Queen's Speech can get him back on track after Partygate and local election

Boris Johnson will be hoping that the Queen’s Speech can get him back on track after Partygate and local election

Boris Johnson will bid to reset his premiership this week with plans in the Queen's Speech to tear up old EU laws, Level Up the Red Wall and give locals more power over housing developments

Boris Johnson will bid to reset his premiership this week with plans in the Queen’s Speech to tear up old EU laws, Level Up the Red Wall and give locals more power over housing developments 

A map showing the most sought-after second home towns for British city dwellers, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay in the South West all within the top six in demand

A map showing the most sought-after second home towns for British city dwellers, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay in the South West all within the top six in demand

Properties that are not even furnished will face a 100 per cent increase in council tax after 12 months, rather than the current two years.

As part of the package, local residents are expected to be given the right to be consulted on ‘design codes’ spelling out the standards that housing developments must meet.

Ministers will look at how the planning inspectorate handles targets on local housing requirements, with greenbelt and areas of natural beauty no longer forced to meet ‘unrealistic’ goals as long as they produce a plausible plan.

A fast-track application category could also be added to the planning system for small builders in an effort to ‘level the playing field’ with big developers.

The measures are contained in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, according to The Times.

Tom Tugendhat, Tory MP for Tonbridge and Malling, said planning was one of the most damaging topics for the party.  

‘One of the things that came up even more for me in the south of England was planning and we need to address the fact that the Garden of England cannot become the Patio of England,’ he said.

‘We need to make sure that communities across the United Kingdom have a say in what is built near them.’

A plan to rid high streets of ‘derelict shopfronts’ and restore neighbourhood pride, with councils given extra powers to force landlords to rent out empty shops, will form another plank of the Queen’s Speech.

Other measures will include the ability to make the pavement cafes which sprang up during the Covid-19 pandemic a permanent part of the town centre landscape.

Under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill measures to revive England’s high streets, councils will be given powers to take control of buildings for the benefit of their communities.

Compulsory rental auctions will ensure that landlords make shops that have been vacant for more than a year available to prospective tenants.

Authorities will also be given greater powers to use compulsory purchase orders to deliver housing, regeneration schemes and infrastructure.

It comes as furious residents of some of Britain’s most picturesque seaside towns have slammed wealthy Londoners for snapping up second homes in the area during the pandemic and pricing them out of the housing market. 

Covid lockdowns and the rise of flexible working saw a surge of Londoners travelling outside of the capital, spending a record £54.9bn on properties outside the city last year – the highest value on record by far.

However, the rush for second homes has brought misery to residents of the most popular towns, with soaring house values pricing young people out of the housing market.

Now, with wealthy Londoners firing up their Chelsea tractors and preparing to descend on their holiday getaways to soak up the Easter sun, more residents have shared their fury and called for curbs to protect property for locals. 

And, with airport chaos plaguing foreign holidays and the pandemic-inspired revival of the staycation, locals are also bracing for a surge in AirBnB visitors, fuelling further worries about congestion and noise. 

Seaside towns (pictured: Salcombe in Devon) are bracing for an onslaught of Londoners rushing to their second homes and AirBnB lets this Easter - after watching the properties be hoovered up by wealthy city-dwellers during the pandemic

Seaside towns (pictured: Salcombe in Devon) are bracing for an onslaught of Londoners rushing to their second homes and AirBnB lets this Easter – after watching the properties be hoovered up by wealthy city-dwellers during the pandemic

Meg Ennis, 70, who works in the Sugar Mountain sweet shop in North Berwick, has lived in the town since 1970 and said there has been a rise in Airbnbs and the parking is 'diabolical'

Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail. She is also struggling to find staff 'because it is mostly holiday homes, Airbnbs and second homes'

Meg Ennis, 70 (left), who works in the Sugar Mountain sweet shop in North Berwick, has lived in the town since 1970 and said there has been a rise in Airbnbs and the parking is ‘diabolical’. Sarah Ronzevelli, who runs the Salt Pig Too restaurant in Swanage, said she had been searching for an affordable home there for four years to no avail

Katie Wallis, of Robin Hood's Bay

Phil Hammill, of Robin Hood's Bay

Katie Wallis (left) and Phil Hammill (right) have described mounting local concern in Robin Hood’s Bay around second homes

One example that came to light this week was the North Yorkshire village of Robin Hood’s Bay where it has been claimed that only 30 per cent of properties are now owned by locals – with all but five in the area near the harbour believed to be either second homes or holiday lets. 

The average house in the village now fetches £373,000 – more than 12 times average annual earnings in the area and out of the reach of first-time buyers.

The issue is creating divisions in picturesque parts of Britain between locals who profit from tourism and those who do not – with MailOnline visiting a number of other second-home UK hotspots this week to find out more.

Among them was North Berwick in East Lothian, where established residents fear the town is unable to maintain the rising demand from tourists amid a picture of ‘not so many bed and breakfasts and loads more Airbnbs’.

Another was Swanage in Dorset, where locals said that younger people can no longer afford to rent or buy there and are moving away amid a boom in second home ownership – while skilled workers are also moving out.

Well-established tourist hotspots such St Ives in Cornwall have introduced restrictions on new builds being sold as second homes but it is said that such bans often do not solve the property crisis and instead harm tourism.

In December, Salcombe topped the list for British city dwellers’ most sought-after second home town followed by Falmouth in Cornwall and North Berwick in East Lothian.

Second homes and holiday lets in the South West are the most popular, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay all within the top six in demand, according to a study by Lakeshore Leisure Group. 

However, there are also fears about the impact of staycationers over the Easter weekend, with thousands of Brits planning to stay in the UK amid chaos at the airports.  

The huge influx of visitors to the seaside and mountains of North Wales led to a warning from health chiefs.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said there was ‘unprecedented demand’ across the whole health and care system in North Wales.

Easter weekend holiday traffic queuing on the westbound A35 near Dorchester in Dorset as holidaymakers flock to the coast to enjoy the scorching hot sunshine on Good Friday

Easter weekend holiday traffic queuing on the westbound A35 near Dorchester in Dorset as holidaymakers flock to the coast to enjoy the scorching hot sunshine on Good Friday

Rich Londoners are firing up the Chelsea tractors and motoring to seaside towns across the country to enjoy the first Covid-restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years. Pictured: Westbound traffic on the A303 towards Devon and Cornwall

 Rich Londoners are firing up the Chelsea tractors and motoring to seaside towns across the country to enjoy the first Covid-restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years. Pictured: Westbound traffic on the A303 towards Devon and Cornwall

In one case, a Cornish hotel worker claims she will be made homeless this week due to out-of-towners snapping up properties to use as holiday homes.

Jasmin Or, 24, grew up in the beauty spot of St Ives and said she cannot find a new place to rent for when her tenancy agreement ends on May 10.

She has exhausted letting agents and spare room sites, and fears she will be sleeping rough in the space of three weeks.

She said: ‘I’m wondering if this place will seem as beautiful to me when I’m sleeping on a bench in three weeks.

‘There’s no homes left. Everything has been turned into second homes now and that’s the issue. They’re all Airbnbs and a lot of locals have been driven out of their homes now to accommodate for the summer.’

Cornwall Council said there is ‘an imbalance in supply and demand’ that the county has never seen before.

St Ives MP Derek Thomas said in December last year that around 100 families compete for every available three-bedroom home in parts of Cornwall.

Covid lockdowns and the rise of flexible working saw a surge of Londoners spending a record £54.9bn on properties outside the city last year – the highest value on record by far.

However, the rush for second homes has brought misery to residents of the most popular towns, with soaring house values pricing young people out of the housing market.

The housing problem in Cornwall was accelerated during the pandemic when ‘staycations’ boomed. Increased demand for second homes in the beach town drove up prices even further – with the cost of rent nearing that seen in London.

Ms Or pays £800 rent – not including any bills – for a room in a two-bedroom house. She has no family home she can return to and is now faced with sleeping rough as she believes it would be a miracle to find alternative accommodation with summer approaching.

Renting a property in St Ives through popular lodging site Airbnb will cost her £150 a night at the moment – £4,500 a month.

Cornwall Council paid out almost £170million in Covid-19 grants to holiday let businesses in Cornwall. It is estimated that more than half of that money went to people who live outside the county.

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Rishi Sunak’s swimming pool complex at his manor house is pictured as he tries to become the next PM

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Rishi Sunak‘s lavish private swimming pool complex at his North Yorkshire manor house has been pictured as he continues to battle Liz Truss to become the next Prime Minister.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who like Ms Truss is facing questions over how they will deal with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and spiralling energy prices, has spent £400,000 on the new pool.

He is also building a gym and tennis courts at the £2million Georgian manor near Northallerton, with reports from earlier this year estimating he would have to pay £13,000-a-year to keep the new pool warm. 

However, this figure may have risen dramatically over the last few months as energy prices have continued to surge, putting millions of people in the UK at risk of not being able to pay their bills.

Yesterday Mr Sunak, who has been criticised for building the pool while his local swimming baths in Richmond are forced to close due to rising energy bills, pledged to spend billions more to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

The former investment banker, who made a fortune before becoming a politician, said there was a ‘moral responsibility’ to offer extra help, while also taking a swipe at Ms Truss’s plans to cut taxes.

He pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills – which he said could raise total support for families to around £700 to £800 – while energy bills look set to reach an eyewatering £4,400 after Christmas.

A gym, tennis court and swimming pool complex at Rishi Sunak's North Yorkshire manor house has taken shape after months of construction

A gym, tennis court and swimming pool complex at Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire manor house has taken shape after months of construction

The Tory leadership hopeful is thought to have spent in the region of £400,000 on the extension to his Georgian Grad2-II listed property

The Tory leadership hopeful is thought to have spent in the region of £400,000 on the extension to his Georgian Grad2-II listed property

It comes as Mr Sunak, pictured here in a visit to St John's Wood Synagogue yesterday, continues his quest to become the next Prime Minister

It comes as Mr Sunak, pictured here in a visit to St John’s Wood Synagogue yesterday, continues his quest to become the next Prime Minister

The swimming pool at his Grade-II listed manor house, where he typically spends his weekends with his wife and two daughters, has been under construction for several months.

The 42-year-old applied to the local council to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year.

These plans, which included a 12-metre by five-metre swimming pool, were later approved by the council.

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby. 

Reports it would cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills.

The 42-year-old applied to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year

The 42-year-old applied to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year

It will include a tennis court (which can be seen in the bottom half of this picture), as well as an indoor private swimming pool

It will include a tennis court (which can be seen in the bottom half of this picture), as well as an indoor private swimming pool

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby before it was approved by the local council last year

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby before it was approved by the local council last year

Retired steel worker Leslie Porter, 69, told the Mirror: ‘Some people are having to choose between heating and eating. Bills are all rising and he does this. It’s obscene.’

Receptionist Hayley Hadden added: ‘He is a millionaire many times over and it looks like he is rubbing our noses in it. He doesn’t have to worry about paying his bills.’

It is one of a number of properties owned by Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy, who is the daughter of one of the richest men in India.

While he was chancellor the family lived in a flat above No 10 Downing Street, but earlier this year they moved to their £6.6 million mews house in Kensington.

The L-shaped pool house, which is under construction after permission was given last year, is set to inlcude a hot tub, utility and changing area, and a plant room

The L-shaped pool house, which is under construction after permission was given last year, is set to inlcude a hot tub, utility and changing area, and a plant room

Reports it will cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills

Reports it will cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills

Work has  started on construction of the swimming pool, gym and tennis court at the Sunak's North Yorkshire manor earlier this year

Work has  started on construction of the swimming pool, gym and tennis court at the Sunak’s North Yorkshire manor earlier this year

They also own a £5.5 million home in Santa Monica in California, where Mr Sunak has been tipped to live if he decides to quit politics in the UK.

Mr Sunak, who worked as an investment banker for firms California, India and Britain, including Goldman Sachs, is known to use the Yorkshire property when Parliament is not in session and he doesn’t need to be in London.

As his battle to become the next Prime Minister with Ms Truss heats up, this week the pair exchanged a series of barbs over their approach to the cost-of-living crisis.

The ex-chancellor has been accused by his rival’s camp of ‘Gordon Brown-style politics’ with a ‘socialist tax and spend’ agenda.

In a swipe back at the Foreign Secretary tonight, Mr Sunak suggested Ms Truss’s tax-cutting proposals were not ‘the moral thing to do’.

Rishi Sunak pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills to help with the cost-of-living crisis

Rishi Sunak pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills to help with the cost-of-living crisis

He also insisted that ‘starry-eyed boosterism’ would not steer the country through the inflation crisis.

In another jibe at Ms Truss, Mr Sunak claimed he would ‘rather lose’ the contest to become PM than promise ‘false things I can’t deliver’.

Both he and Ms Truss have faced calls to pledge further support during the cost-of-living crisis after energy bills for typical households were this week forecast to soar to more than £4,200 next year.

‘I do feel a moral responsibility as prime minister to go further and get extra help to people over the autumn and the winter to help them cope with what is going to be a really difficult time,’ Mr Sunak said.

‘I think that is the right priority.’

Mr Sunak suggested his rival Liz Truss's tax-cutting proposals were not 'the moral thing to do' as he took a series of swipes at the Foreign Secretary

Mr Sunak suggested his rival Liz Truss’s tax-cutting proposals were not ‘the moral thing to do’ as he took a series of swipes at the Foreign Secretary

The Foreign Secretary has faced pressure to match Mr Sunak’s promise of more direct support for families, after she previously steered away from pledging extra ‘handouts’ to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Sunak’s camp have accused Ms Truss of a ‘major U-turn’ after she today insisted she was not ruling out further cash payments.

But the Foreign Secretary has maintained that tax cuts – and boosting the economy – are her ‘priority’.

Ms Truss’s promise to cancel the National Insurance rise, scrap a planned increase in corporation tax, and remove green levies on energy bills appears to be proving popular with Tory members.

Mr Sunak has warned that Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plans will worsen the inflation crisis and cause interest rates to rocket.

He insisted he was ‘prepared to lose this contest’ rather than ‘saying the easy things’ and not staying ‘true to my values’.

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Window shopping: Stained glass or acoustic? Solid wood or plastic?

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Your front door isn’t there to keep people out, it’s there to welcome them in.

Along with the windows — those peep-holes into your life — the style and colour tell friends and strangers alike who you are and what they can expect when they set foot inside your home.

‘Windows can make or break a space,’ says luxury interior designer Katharine Pooley. ‘They often don’t quite receive the attention they should, which is a shame as with the right ironmongery and a beautiful finish they instantly upgrade the overall aesthetic.’

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

And yet we spend twice as long selecting a kitchen worktop than we do choosing windows for our house.

So what options do you have to make them pretty as well as practical?

Plastic fantastic?

First off, don’t go for those horrid brilliant white, smooth plastic frames for windows. They often look ugly.

If you have to get uPVC because you’re on a tight budget, then at least get them in off-white with a woodgrain effect — some brands are pretty convincing nowadays.

KJM does a good line — for a double-glazed casement in woodgrain-effect measuring 1,200mm x 630mm, the price is about £275 supply-only.

Heavy metal

The sleek, hip-kid-on-the-block, aluminium-framed windows look up-to-the minute.

And because metal is stronger than wood or uPVC, the frame will be much slimmer, so there’s a larger area for glass.

We’re used to a cool grey colour, but you can have the frames made in any hue you like. So you can have them in forest green, midnight blue or flame red.

The same windows as above in aluminium would be £515.

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Picture windows

Oh, the fun you can have with stained glass. Coloured designs are usually banished to little fan-lights at the top of doors in late Victorian houses.

But why not have coloured or picture panels in your front windows. You can have a nautical theme if you live by the sea; or an abstract whirl of shapes and colours.

A window with a bespoke design from Cheam Leaded Lights of about 1,200mm x 630mm will cost in the region of £2,500 to £3,000 supply-only.

Modernist style

Crittall windows or doors feature a sharp Art Deco design with slim black steel frames divided into squares. 

They have had a style renaissance over the past few years, somehow looking both up-to-date and classic at the same time.

While the Crittall company still manufactures the official items, you can get them in the same style from a host of other firms.

Crittall’s windows range from £500 to £850 per square metre, including installation.

Upgrade your glass

You can get all sorts of special glass these days. If you live by a busy road, acoustic glass will do better for you than standard double glazing.

Double glazing has two panes of glass with a void between them, whereas acoustic glass has two panes sandwiched together with a thin plastic layer in the middle to filter out more sound waves. 

Polarised glass keeps out the sun’s rays on hot days. And reflective glass turns windows into a one-way mirror so you can look out but passers-by can’t look in. 

Roseview’s Ultimate Rose windows are made from uPVC, but almost indistinguishable from wood.

A 1,200mm x 630mm acoustic glass window costs about £900 supply-only.

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Solid wood

Wooden windows are becoming harder to find as vinyl and fibreglass take over, but they’re durable and can be a charming addition to a home.

Wooden Windows make bespoke timber windows and doors. It’s worth matching the two; after all, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a solid wood front door thudding into place.

It says that your castle is now secure against all onslaught. They do take some maintaining, though — you will have to repaint every four or five years, and there’s the chance of warping, which could make it more difficult to close or lock.

Old English Doors do a good line in hand-made Georgian-style, six-panelled solid oak doors from £4,320 supply-only.

Savings of the week! Rugs 

Temperatures may still be soaring. But the predicted higher fuel bills in the autumn means finding ways to make your home more cosy should start now.

A rug pulls all the elements in a room together. It also provides a layer of insulation, trapping cold air underneath.

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Some heartwarming bargains of as much as 50 per cent off are available which, with care, should keep you snug for years. 

The abstract pattern Kista from West Elm in pale grey, blue and yellow would suit a stripped-down decor. It now costs from £112.95 to £519.95 (depending on size) down from £449 to £1,039 (westelm.com). 

The Pollo from The Rug Shop UK is in the same style. It costs from £71 to £224, reduced from £79 to £249 (therug shopuk.co.uk). At Loaf, the Tufty in cream and white is down 50 per cent from £345 to £175 (loaf.com).

The Habitat Byron in dark and pale grey, orange and teal would add zing to neutral interiors; it’s down by one-third to £119.99 (argos.co.uk).

Faded antique-style rugs continue to be fashionable. La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25 per cent; from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk).

Anne Ashworth

 

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Liverpool ONE welcomes Tessuti (GB)

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Grosvenor has announced that designer retailer, Tessuti, has opened its new global flagship store at Liverpool ONE, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing vote of confidence in the destination. The new location on Paradise Street follows Tessuti’s consistently strong performance at Liverpool ONE and spans two floors measuring 22,000ft². Boasting Tessuti’s biggest store to date, this is four times the size of the previous Liverpool ONE site. The store interiors have been styled with a subtle nod to classic Italian architecture whilst incorporating state-of-the-art technical features, combining classic design with an industrial-chic colour palette and cutting-edge digital screens. Working with local Liverpudlian digital and production agency Liquid, the new Tessuti store has exclusive instore stills and videos showcasing exciting campaigns; the first of which is rumoured to feature Liverpool stars Stephen Graham, Abbey Clancy, Miles Kane and Chelcee Grimes.

 

Aligning with Liverpool ONE’s community ethos, Tessuti’s new global flagship will also support the vibrant community in the heart of Liverpool, championing local businesses through collaborations, pop-ups, and in-store events.

 

Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor, commented: “Tessuti’s commitment to Liverpool ONE, through its relocation within the destination and decision to make the new store its global flagship, strengthens our position as one of Europe’s leading retail and leisure destinations. The impressive growth trajectory of Tessuti within Liverpool is a great indication of the potential for success and expansion of other brands that join Liverpool ONE.”

 

Chris Rowan, Director of Brand & Customer Connection at Tessuti, added: “The opening of our global flagship at Liverpool ONE is a huge moment for us. Liverpool is an urban hub for international fashion retailers, so upsizing and relocating within the city’s leading retail and leisure destination was a natural next step. We feel confident that it is the ideal home for our flagship location, and are excited to offer Liverpool ONE’s visitors our most stylish project yet.”

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