Choco­late box Corn­wall helps sweeten the di­vide

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

If you thought a cock­tail of aus­ter­ity and higher stamp duty would kill off hol­i­day home sales, think again – es­pe­cially if you are in Corn­wall. Anal­y­sis com­piled for The Daily Tele­graph by es­tate agency Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional shows that in 2010, seven per cent of prop­er­ties bought in Corn­wall were se­cond homes. By 2017, de­spite a three per cent stamp duty sur­charge in­tro­duced in 2016 and steep coun­cil tax in­creases on se­cond homes in parts of the county, that fig­ure was up to nine per cent.

There’s no sign of it stop­ping, with one of the West Coun­try’s lead­ing agents, Jo Ashby of John Bray & Co, re­port­ing a se­ri­ous rise in in­ter­est from buy­ers spend­ing £1mil­lion or more so far this year at Cor­nish hon­ey­pots such as Rock, Port Isaac, Polzeath and Daymer Bay.

Ashby re­calls that the April 2016 stamp duty hike proved a de­ter­rent – but only for a few months.

“A lot of buy­ers rushed to beat the dead­line… Now the three per cent is just a fact of life. Peo­ple know it’s not go­ing to change so they’re get­ting on and buy­ing again,” she says. You can say that again. Those Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional fig­ures show that in 2016 and 2017 no fewer than 67 per cent of prop­er­ties bought in the PL28 post­code, cen­tred on north Corn­wall favourites Pad­stow, St Mer­ryn and Trevone, were se­cond homes. The Rame penin­sula near the bor­der with De­von is next with 29 per cent, with St Ives on 24 per cent. Such high pro­por­tions have led, in­evitably, to a back­lash. Most crit­ics are not urg­ing a whole­sale ban on se­cond homes, just cor­rect­ing what many see as the im­bal­ance ex­ist­ing in some ar­eas. The high-pro­file St Ives ref­er­en­dum in 2016, ban­ning the sale of fu­ture new-build houses and flats to se­cond homers, has been repli­cated in St Min­ver (in­clud­ing Rock) and the Rame penin­sula; plans are afoot to vote soon on the is­sue in Me­vagis­sey on the south coast, too. How­ever, th­ese bans are re­stricted only to brand new homes, and do not pre­clude se­cond homers from buy­ing an old house, knock­ing it down and build­ing a new one on the same plot – pre­cisely what chef Gor­don Ram­say is do­ing in Rock. Such bans have re­ceived a mixed re­cep­tion from the prop­erty in­dus­try. “The ef­fect has been to push up the prices of older prop­er­ties,” says Gareth Sains­bury, a West Coun­try buy­ing agent. This in a county that is the se­cond-most de­prived area in north­ern Europe, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent In­dex of Mul­ti­ple De­pri­va­tion.

As a re­sult, a feel­ing of “sec­ond­home guilt” has bro­ken out among some. The Corn­wall Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion (CCF), a char­ity set up in 2003 to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion and al­le­vi­ate poverty in the county, has sought to chan­nel this into some­thing more pro­duc­tive, en­cour­ag­ing buy­ers to make a do­na­tion to­wards com­mu­nity projects. In 2016 broad­caster and hote­lier Alex Polizzi, her­self a se­cond home­owner in Corn­wall, started the ini­tia­tive with a £5,000 do­na­tion.

David Mills, a re­tired busi­ness­man, lives in St Mar­garets, south-west Lon­don, but has had a home in north Corn­wall for more than 20 years. “It’s a clas­sic case of giv­ing some­thing back,” he says. “We ap­pre­ci­ate that we’re priv­i­leged to have a hol­i­day home at all, es­pe­cially in this part of the coun­try, but not ev­ery­one in that com­mu­nity is so for­tu­nate. We know many other se­cond home­own­ers who also sup­port the CCF.”

The char­ity pro­vides funds for causes rang­ing from con­tribut­ing to the run­ning costs of a sup­port cen­tre for the home­less in St Austell, to help­ing a com­mu­nity pro­ces­sion in Lost­with­iel each New Year’s Day. It fundraises through tra­di­tional means such as do­na­tions, but also through so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing the Corn­wall 100 Club, which se­cures do­na­tions from busi­nesses based in the county.

CCF de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Jeremy Ward sug­gests se­cond home­own­ers do­nate a week’s rental in­come from their prop­erty. The tac­tic works, he says, with many agree­ing, of­ten giv­ing “much more” than one week’s rent. “We don’t take a view for or against se­cond homes. We just want more bal­ance be­tween the two Corn­walls – the choco­late box one that’s well known, and the other where lo­cals strug­gle with poverty and iso­la­tion,” he says.

The John Bray agency, which backs the CCF, says se­cond home­own­ers have a vested in­ter­est in see­ing com­mu­ni­ties thrive. “By let­ting out their homes they en­cour­age visi­tors who spend lo­cally. No one wants a ghost vil­lage with­out fa­cil­i­ties,” says Ashby. Source: Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional

St Ives, left; a house in St Mawes, right, £1.95m with Knight Frank

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