Concerns raised over Yorkshire Dales second homes tax

Askrigg in Wensleydale. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Concerns have been raised about a plan to  increase council tax on second homes.

A proposal from Richmondshire District Council which has been backed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park authority could see second home owners in the Dales having to pay five times the level of council tax that locals have to pay.

The could mean a tax bill of £8,500 a year for a Band D property in the national park.

But some community leaders have raised concerns about the plan, including some members of the park authority.

The objections raised at the authority’s December meeting included the fact that the YDNPA cannot raise council taxes itself and that a large increase might have serious unintended consequences.

A former chairman of the YDNPA, Steve Macaré, did not believe that the authority should be leading the way with such a proposal because it was not a precepting council.

That, he said, should be left to the four district councils which have areas within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

He and others also pointed out that the negative impact upon rural communities of the increasing number of second homes and holiday lets was a nationwide problem and not just within national parks.

North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie warned about the law of unintended consequences which could lead to the interests of local communities actually being damaged.

Others described the proposal as a blunt instrument which had not been fully researched.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “The people who buy second homes are our [national park] friends, they are our supporters, they care about the Dales. We shouldn’t repay their support by making them pay more.”

She accepted that something did need to be done but asked at what cost.

She agreed with some others that the priority had to be to create more jobs, and to improve transport and communications.

The chairman of the authority’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry commented: “I think we could be open to legal challenge if we suddenly say to somebody who has been coming here for maybe 40 years that [their second home] is going to cost an extra £10,000 a year.”

A parish council representative, Cllr Allen Kirkbride, described how many second home owners in Askrigg actively supported community events.

He did not believe that increasing the tax on second homes would solve the problem of providing more affordable housing.

Cllr John Blackie pointed out that many of the volunteers with the Little White Bus service had been second home owners and now wanted to give back something to the community.

“An increase in tax will put off people who want to contribute – they will go elsewhere,”  he added.

According to the Association of Rural Communities, one member said after the meeting that second home owners were already considering  turning their properties into holiday lets.

Pip Land, from ARC, said if they did that they would then pay business rates of which only half would go directly to the district council.

The rest would go to the government which would then decide how much to give to the district council.

“That would completely derail this attempt to rectify the problem of the diminishing stock of permanent homes in the Dales,” Ms Land, who runs, on a voluntary basis, the association‘s news service which has an archive of reports on voluntarism YDNPA planning meetings dating back to 2010.

She noted that only two out of the 22 YDNPA members at the December meeting voted against the recommendation to support putting time into working with the constituent district councils to try to reach agreement on a joint programme of activity to attract more families and people of working age to move to the national park; and, as part of that programme, approve the authority working alongside the district councils and other relevant authorities to develop a specific proposal to the Government on second homes.

She said: “Having listened to the debate at the authority’s meeting in December we know there was not 100 per cent support for the proposal  to make more homes affordable to young families by substantially increasing the council tax on second  homes.

“The Association of Rural Communities has argued since its inception 22 years ago that the well-being of the national park depended upon the sustainability and well-being of its communities. It is good to see that the YDNPA is seeking to address the serious issues facing those communities.

“We only hope that the chief executive’s warning that it may already be too late to halt their decline proves to be wrong.”


  1. Has anyone actually analysed the cost of houses here v the national average? THERE IS NO PREMIUM! House prices are in line with those elsewhere. This tax proposal is the financial equivalent of Welsh extremists burning holiday homes in the 80s from which the Welsh economy has never recovered. No one will pay this penalising and vindictive tax which stems from an innate dislike of outsiders and the politics of envy. Second home owners pay double council tax already because they only live in one place at a time and use the services of one place so in fact there is per capita far more money already in the Dales than is warranted. If this suicidal and backward looking plan goes ahead, just where are these young people going to work? There will be no nice shops or eateries because any jobs that remain will be at minimum wage. The nice places will disappear as the tourists and second home owners desert us for friendlier areas. I am ashamed of the Councillors who voted for this vile proposal to “cleanse” the Dales of offcumdens.

  2. After saving very hard over 40years ago my late wife and I purchased our second home.We bought this house because my wife’s aunt had lived in Swaledale since the begining of the war and we often visited and stayed with her. This house was in a very dilapitated state and over many years we have gradually improved it by employing local tradesmen and getting connection to the mains water supply and electricity. I still use the house quite regularly, weather permitting, together with my daughter,soninlaw and family. I did calculate that we spent approximately a third of each year at the house and I am always regarded as one of the locals and taking part in many functions including refereeing the local football matches when asked. I seem to have more friends in the upper dale than in my home town.
    I am appalled at the proposal to increase the council tax of second homes.I think it will do more damage to the area than solve the lack of affordable housing for young people.The answer is to get more new housing built in the many locations that local young people work. Builders should only be allowed to sell such properties at a determined price and not be allowed to sell them on to outsiders.
    Enough said. Any increase in tax would be in effect a fine but no crime had occurred

  3. I was born in Otley. From the window of my council home I could see “the Promised Land” of the dales and we went there by bike or later by car most weekends. After University at York I went and worked for 4 years in a craft pottery in Wensleydale but eventually, like many young people before and after me, I had to go to the city for a living wage that would pay a mortgage. I spent that wage building a converted home in the same dales village I had worked in to regularly return and eventually retire to. 40 years of love and commitment to the dales followed. Now at 68 this vindictive and economically illiterate proposal has made its point. Where I only ever experienced friendship and welcome from Dales people in the 1970’s, suddenly I am merely an unwelcome parasite who should give up the house I have built and paid for since then. The dales need well paid secure jobs, rather like large parts of the UK. They don’t need this pitting of one person against another.

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