Approval of short-term rental area for Badenoch and Strathspey hailed as ‘momentous change’
Affordable housing campaigners are celebrating a ‘momentary change’ following Scottish ministers’ decision to green light the creation of Scotland’s second short-term rental control area in Badenoch and Strathspey.
A major driver of the area has been Highland local councilor Bill Lobban, who lives in Aviemore, where property prices are among the highest in the north of Scotland.
He told the Strathy: “Local members, past and present, have worked tirelessly over the past year to bring about this momentous change in housing policy.
“We are very grateful for the support we have received from the public, other elected members and especially the time and attention given to our proposal by the Scottish Government.
“While there are still some details to iron out, we hope this will be the way forward to ensure the housing market is rebalanced to be more in favor of providing affordable housing locally in the strath.
“It’s certainly not an attack on our essential tourist market, but something that will benefit us all.”
Campaigners hope the move will help make housing more affordable for residents unable to financially compete with the demand for short-term rentals due to the growing popularity of Airbnb, Booking.com and other online platforms.
But Mark Tate, chief executive of Cairngorm Business Partnership, believes the green light will hurt the local economy and said it was already happening.
Many short-term rentals, he thinks, will simply become second homes that will be empty for much of the year.
Mr Tate said: ‘The approval was expected and continues to cause significant doubt and uncertainty for local residents who run visitor accommodation.
“Some operators have already exited the market, with many of these properties becoming second homes, massively reducing the economic impact of these properties.
“We fully agree that absolute attention should be paid to protecting affordable homes for residents.
“We don’t believe this decision will significantly help address this challenge, especially given the economic damage we are already seeing.
“Highland Council is currently consulting on planning policies that would support the control area and we urge them to quickly rule out any use of the decision to deny permission to existing providers.”
Scottish Government planners informed the council that their reasons for the area had been approved.
Ministers said they had carefully considered all the evidence presented to them, including the council’s statement of reasons for the designation.
They agreed that the council’s planning authority had taken into account the views expressed during the public consultation and had given it full consideration.
other relevant evidence and reached a “reasoned decision”.
A Scottish Government planning spokeswoman said: “The planning authority is proposing to designate the control area to manage the high concentrations of short-term rentals in the area, to ensure homes and land are best used and to control the secondary rental of residential houses to protect neighboring residential equipment.
“The Ministers consider these to be valid reasons for proposing the designation and conclude that the proposed designation would be justified and
She added: “Following the submission of the council’s request to ministers, further correspondence has been received from Shepherd & Wedderburn on behalf of Airbnb.
“Ministers have considered this correspondence in this decision on the proposed designation.
“The correspondence does not alter the Ministers’ view that the proposed designation of the Short-Term Permit Control Area is warranted and reasonable.”
Highland Council presented its proposed policy earlier this month on how the STL control area will be implemented.
For a change of use to be acceptable under the draft policy, an established property on short-term let must have been marketed before September 9, 2021 and the property must have been built before the adoption of LHS Council (Local Housing Strategy) on December 6, 2017.
Before designating the Short Term Rental Control Area, the planning authority must publish a notice of designation.
The City of Edinburgh was given the green light in July to create a short-term rental control zone.