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Dispelling a myth? Second homes in Wales

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Second homes have been a source of considerable controversy in Wales for more than three decades. In this article we argue that they have, in reality, become less important in recent times, with the market contracting during the 1990s and other more fundamental demographic changes and housing pressures coming to the fore. Second homes are a highly localized issue, affecting a minority of communities -- though, at times, quite severely. Retirement and other housing pressures, however, bring more significant socio-economic changes and these pressures are all too frequently amplified by a planning system used to restrict housing supply rather than manage growth. This paper has three parts, beginning with a general review of the second home debate followed by an examination of the changing geography of second homes, showing how the distribution of these properties altered during the 1990s and how the market contracted. It ends with a review of secondary data, revealing that second homes are a relatively small component of wider processes affecting rural communities, though extremely significant in some areas.

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