Skin deep beauty of Britain’s Lake District: Villages that no one calls home

Lake District: Villages that no one calls home

VILLAGES in the Lake District are being turned into “ghost towns” because of the large number of people buying second homes in the national park, the former leader of the Lib Dems has said.

Many people buy second homes in the national park
Tim Farron is to demand a change in planning and local taxation laws in Parliament this week because of the problem in one of the most picturesque parts of England. He wants local authorities to have the power to demand double the council tax rate for second homes. The issue, which is replicated in areas of natural beauty such as Devon, Cornwall, North Wales and Norfolk, sees the number of second homes driving up the cost of housing, pricing out local people and threatening services.
Mr Farron, whose Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency includes the Lake District, said: “We don’t want to be unwelcoming or say that people should not buy second homes, but there is a problem in many villages which are being turned into ghost towns because there is nobody living there for much of the year.

“I went door knocking in one village near Hawkshead and every house was empty apart from one where there was just a man in his 70s.”

Mr Farron said the knockon effect was that schools close because there are no children to go there any more, bus services are cancelled and shops go out of business.

He also wants to close a loophole where second homes owners register as a small business avoiding local tax.

“It seems wrong that people who own these homes are not even contributing financially to the community,” he said. “Many people would think it was fair for them to actually pay extra to help keep services alive even if they are not there for much of the year to spend money in the community.”

Mr Farron wants to force property buyers to seek planning permission for a second home designation.

The MP said: “That way the number of second homes in a village could be limited simply by the council refusing to give planning permission.”

He added: “We need to restrict the impact that second homes are having on communities.”

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