Former Prime Minister David Cameron has just bought a £2m house in north Cornwall, as more areas in the coastal county push for restrictions on second homes.
The “massive” house is just a mile away from Gordon Ramsay’s holiday home in Rock, and is an addition to Cameron’s £1.5m Cotswolds cottage and his £3.5m Notting Hill house.
The Cameron family have been holidaying in Cornwall for several years. A spokesman said: “David has always loved spending time in Cornwall and has dreamt of having his own place there. He looks forward to spending more time in that beautiful part of the world.”
But the purchase comes at a time when the issues arising from second homes are top of the agenda for many locals in Cornwall, with an estimated one in four new properties in popular St Ives being used as holiday homes.
Last year, 80% of residents in St Ives voted for a ban on second homes in the area in a referendum, and the decision was made to prevent second home owners from buying new houses in the area – although they can still buy older properties.
The move by Cornwall Council was opposed by RLT Built Environment Ltd, but the High Court has dismissed the challenge, ruling that the referendum was done correctly and the decision stands.
Feeling the effects
The new rules in St Ives have led to five more parishes in the Rame Peninsular in Cornwall submitting similar plans, asking for newbuilds to be reserved for buyers who are using them for their primary residence.
George Trubody, a councillor and the chairman of the Rame Peninsula Neighbourhood Plan Parish Cluster Steering Group, said: “In order to give local families a chance of having their own home, our first policy was, and still is, a control on future second homes on the peninsula.
“From all the consultation events and evidence gathered, our community is adamant that we have enough second homes and something needs to be done.”
However, it seems that house sales in St Ives have dropped since the changes came in, with estate agents warning that outsiders now feel unwelcome.
Jeremy Miller, operations partner at Miller & Son, said: “One of the main problems is how it has been interpreted. Second home buyers are thinking they are not welcome. In fact we love second home owners but we are trying to create a market where local people can afford to buy.
“Restaurants and shops and cafes, beach facilities and bars all need tourists to keep going.”
He said he had seen around a 10% drop in enquiries, and thinks people are now “treading on egg shells a bit”.
Stamping it out
David Cameron’s new purchase will leave him taking a huge stamp duty hit, as it falls above the top £1.5m tier and is one of multiple homes that he owns – making his stamp duty bill around £213,750.
And it seems Chancellor Phillip Hammond is considering plans to make second home ownership an even more unattractive prospect as he is looking to move wealth out of the property market and into other parts of the economy.
Last year, a Community Fund was also set up encouraging those who owned second homes in the county to put money towards funding affordable housing in Cornwall, in a move to appease disgruntled locals.
Although the scheme has been popular with some, and is backed by Channel 5 presenter Alex Polizzi, who owns a cottage in St Mawes, it has been widely criticised as being a “guilt tax” for second home owners.
Peter Olivey, an estate agent in Padstow, said: “Holiday homes are part and parcel of the county and the Cornish economy is stronger for it.
“I have reservations about how successful this scheme will be and how many people will contribute. It’s not a bottomless pit – owners are already paying higher stamp duty. You could call it a ‘guilt tax’.”