Housing is a huge issue, and some of the immediate issues we're seeing here in North Devon are actually in the private rental sector, where I have a number of constituents who, through no fault of their own, are being evicted and they are now unable to find a new private rental because there are no private rentals left on the market. They are an immediate conern for us because over the summer they have maybe eight weeks left to find accomodation. They are people who work here in our community. It's a difficult balance to ensure that local residents and local families and people who want to come and work here are able to afford to. We're delighted to see so many people coming to North Devon, but with so many people movng in, it's put real pressure on the housing market, particularly where we are seeing people push the price of those hosues up and then not living or working in the community full time, is actually creating a shortage of housing for local people.
In the short term, we're looking at what levers there might be available locally with the Council, but in the longer term, I have raised this with the Secretary of State and with the Prime Minister direclty, within the Planning Bill are there opportunities to try to restrict the number of homes that can be sold for something other than a primary residence. So really to put a focus on building homes to make sure that local people can work in the area, and also to find a better way of managing the holiday let market so that we know how many properties are being rented out, and that we make sure that if people are changing a home to a holiday let, that perhaps a change of use application is required, so we can really be more confident that we have enough homes for local people, and also for people to work in the tourist sector, because people come on holiday because we have fantastic restaurants and bars up here. But if we haven't got anybody to work in them, it becomes a slightly more challenging place to be.
I think there is a need to manage the situation. The balance is tilted, so we've always welcomed second home owners up here, but villages like Croyde are over 60% second homes now, and that then means in the winter the pubs and restaurants don't have enough customers to keep them open. We end up with sort of ghost communities. So I think it is important to get that balance. It's a management tool, I hope, and it's what I think our community and our visitors would like moving forward.
I think that's a real challenge, and that's a conversation that a number of us had with the Secretary of State last week, and he's very aware of looking into unintended consequences. This is why nobody's rushing forward saying "this is the solution", because we're very aware of what happened in Cornwall, and that's why I think some of these things need to be done on a more national basis, or the whole coast, because obviously you can just move along the coast if it's one place doing something different. So it's trying to get that balance right, and really think through what are the potential unintended consequences, because that comes with it's own issues.