Determined to give locals a chance to purchase homes in their communities, St Ives’ council held a referendum where 12,000 residents were asked if they would agree to a ban on building any new homes that would not be used as ‘principal homes’.
Dubbed Kensington-on-Sea, property prices in St Ives have been inflated to 75 per cent over the national average because of wealthy Londoners’ partiality for second homes there. It has been estimated that roughly one quarter of all homes in St Ives are dormant during the week, injuring the local economy and pricing residents out of the housing market.
The referendum, held on 5 May 2016, was the first time that the local electorate took part in voting on local planning policies for the area. Residents voted in favour of against the Neighbourhood Plan, a comprehensive planning document that shapes future development of the area up to the year 2030, and includes the provision on planning permission for second homes.
The referendum asked voters: “Do you want Cornwall Council to use the neighbourhood plan for St Ives to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”
The referendum result was announced at 5am on the morning of 6 May; St Ives Area Neighbourhood Plan was voted in by an 83% majority of voters in St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant and Halsetown. The turnout for the referendum was 42.7% of the electorate, with 3075 YES votes, 616 No votes and 4 spoiled papers.
Formal adoption of the Plan now has to take place at Cornwall Council before it can be officially declared ‘made’.
The Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, Town Councillor Rita Lait, said, “Firstly, we must recognise the participation of the local residents who have taken part in the process from the start up, through to the community consultations and ultimately turning out to vote in the referendum. The significant level of turnout makes the result a more valid representation of the wishes of the community.”
The St Ives Area Neighbourhood Plan is a development plan, with the aim of providing housing to meet local needs while preserving the character of the area. It also covers the issues of local economic development, community facilities and transport.
“Following a community lead initiative, consultation with Cornwall Council, scrutiny by an independent body, the people of St Ives overwhelmingly voted to adopt the Neighbourhood plan, their voice has echoed around the UK, communities have the power to determine their future,” said Town Mayor, Councillor Linda Taylor.