The proposal of a new short-term let control area to improve the availability of housing in the Badenoch and Strathspey are of the Highlands has been backed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
If it is approved, people will have to apply for planning permission before being able to use a house as a short-term let.
The move comes due to a large number of properties in the area being bought as second homes or with the intention of them being rented out as holiday homes.
This has resulted in people who live and work in the area struggling to find somewhere to call home.
The plan was first proposed back in September, with Highland councillors rallying together to support it.
Pippa Hadley, Badenoch and Strathspey councillor, said: “This is not a situation we can continue to exist within.
“It is not just the viability of our communities but our businesses and the future of our children depends on us to make a sensible decision now.
“We need change and change that is strong enough to protect our future generations and their capacity to live in the communities they have been raised in.”
‘This is a place which lacks suitable long term, affordable housing’
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has now backed the proposal to create a short-term let control area.
CNPA board convener Xander McDade said: “The things that limit that supply of housing include high house prices generally through competition from people buying property for short-term letting and second homes, reduced numbers of properties available for longer term occupation because of increased tenancy rights, higher standards of building efficiency and safety, higher yields from short term letting, as well as a limited supply of new houses being built that are guaranteed to meet the local need and demand.”
Mr McDade acknowledged the positive aspects of having short term lets in the area, but still highlighted the fact that more needs to be done for locals.
“Short term lets are an important part of the holiday accommodation offering across the national park and are very important to the local economy but I welcome these proposals from Highland Council to introduce a control area in Badenoch and Strathspey,” he said.
“We know that this is a place which lacks suitable long term, affordable housing for people living and working here.”
What kind of homes will require permission?
Gavin Miles, head of planning and place at the CNPA, went into more detail about the types of properties that would need to seek planning permission under the new control area.
“The requirement for planning permission will only apply to changes of use of dwellinghouses,” he explained.
“It will not apply to long-term rentals, bed and breakfasts and renting out individual rooms or annexes if the owner or occupier resides in the dwellinghouse. Nor does it apply to homes where no secondary letting is done or accommodation that has been built specifically for holiday purposes, such as pods and holiday chalets.
“We must also remember that the creation of a short term let control area is not a ban on short term letting – it simply means that a dwellinghouse will require to have planning permission for that use.”
‘Investment is still required’
Though she backs the proposals, Gaener Rodger, convener of the CNPA planning committee, believes there is more to be done to fix the housing problem.
She said: “I welcome these proposals and I agree that this approach will be another helpful tool to manage housing pressures locally. However, it is just one measure available to help tackle the issue.
“If we want to fully support local communities by ensuring that suitable housing is available, we must not assume that a short term let control area is a panacea – investment is still required in new affordable and mid market housing that remains so in perpetuity.
“There is no single tool that is likely to solve the issue of availability of housing for people living or working in the national park, but used together, there is the potential to make a significant improvement.”
Anyone who wishes to comment on the proposal and find out more can do so on the Highland Council website until March 7.