Timetable confirmed for Badenoch and Strathspey short-term let control area

Timetable confirmed for Badenoch and Strathspey short-term let control area

Photo by Jack Skinner on Unsplash

The establishment of a short-term let control area in the Badenoch and Strathspey ward of The Highland Council took a step closer yesterday with members agreeing the non-statutory Short-term Let Control Area Planning Policy for use in the determination of applications and the timetable to move forward.

The required notice will be published in the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald newspaper and on the council’s website in January 2024. Following this, the previously agreed information session will take place in late January and February 2024 before the Ward 20 Control Area is established on Monday 4 March 2024.

Once a control area has been designated the proposed use of a dwellinghouse as a short-term let will automatically require planning permission. The need for planning permission for the use of properties other than dwellinghouses for short-term letting/tourist accommodation will not change as a result of a control area being established.

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Ken Gowans said: “This could be a key policy for Highland if it proves successful for Badenoch and Strathspey, so I am pleased that the policy to determine applications has been agreed and implementation takes a step closer.”

The council has also already received a number of planning applications from new and existing short-term let operators seeking to secure planning permission in the event the control area is established. Now members have approved the recommendations in the report, all of these pending applications will be determined in accordance with the Development Plan (including NPF4) and the revised non-statutory planning guidance.

Chair of the Badenoch and Strathspey Committee, Cllr Russell Jones, said: “Currently there is a severe imbalance in the market and these figures highlight our concern about the impact short-term letting is having on local housing and validates our efforts to have a Short-term Let Control Area for Ward 20. I encourage as many existing and prospective operators as possible to come to the information sessions that will take place early next year before the control area commences in March.”

Convener of The Highland Council and Ward Member, Cllr Bill Lobban, said: “The housing marketplace in Badenoch & Strathspey is in meltdown with local residents and incoming staff unable to find affordable accommodation.

“We need visitors as they are the mainstay of our economy, but we also need homes for the people who live and work in the area and there is no point building more and more houses if local people are completely priced out of the market. The new STL Control Area will not solve the problem overnight but is just one of a mix of innovative solutions we will have to consider going on into the future.”

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), which has been campaigning against the implementation, said there is an insufficient evidence base to progress with a short-term let control area for Badenoch and Strathspey.

Fiona Campbell, CEO of the ASSC, added: “Targeting legitimate small businesses as a means of addressing longstanding housing issues – especially when there are a larger number of vacant properties, long-term empty properties, and second homes – is completely wrongheaded and shows a muddled sense of priorities.

The local economy relies on tourism and self-catering is an integral component of the visitor accommodation mix. Regulating these properties out of the market won’t lead to a flood of affordable homes in the area and anyone suggesting so is raising false hopes.

“We acknowledge the reconsidered position of The Highland Council not to apply planning policy retrospectively in terms of existing short-term let properties. Lord Braid’s recent judgement on the Edinburgh Judicial Review is clearly having an impact on local authority thinking and we welcome moves to take cognisance of this in the Highlands and elsewhere.

“However, there are 215 planning applications in the pipeline and many will therefore have applied unnecessarily. It remains to be seen if operators will be rightly compensated for the costs involved.”

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