SNOWDONIA National Park’s planning chairman has urged a change in the law so people wanting a second or holiday home would need planning permission.

This follows concern about the ever increasing number of such homes in Gwynedd, now claimed to be approaching 40 per cent.

Some Snowdonia National Park Authority members are also worried about the effect on the Welsh language after official figures showed that more second homes are being bought in Gwynedd than anywhere in Wales.

The Authority’s planning chairman, Councillor Elwyn Edwards, said: “We are aware of the pressures facing the local housing market in the National Park, which appears to be intensifying. Many communities have a significant proportion of second homes and holiday lets, which creates difficulty in enabling local people to access housing in their own community. Whilst the National Park Authority is not a housing authority we do have an input through development and planning issues.

“National planning and legislative change could undoubtedly address some of these issues and I will be presenting a motion to the next Authority meeting on the need for change to Welsh legislation that will require planning permission for anyone wanting a second home or holiday home. I hope the Welsh Government will work with us on this issue.”

Liz Saville Roberts MP said: “Our communities are facing a housing crisis. We know that the number of houses sold to housing associations was extremely low, and historically buy to lets have also been low, so it's fair to assume that the vast majority of these will have been sold as second homes. That's completely unsustainable. We need to see both the Welsh and UK governments take action to ensure that people can afford to buy homes in their communities should they wish.

"If this worrying trajectory persists then more families and young people will be priced out of their local communities leading to hugely damaging implications for community life."

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru's Senedd candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd said : “"Our communities are being hollowed out because of the numbers of houses being sold as holiday homes or as holiday lets to be placed on letting platforms such as Airbnb.

"We live in a stunning part of the world and it's understandable people want to visit for their holidays, and of course the tourism industry is important to the economy. But we must have the right mix, and as thing stand it's unhealthy and local people are being priced out of their communities. The government must look at capping the number of holiday homes in any one community, like they've done in Switzerland; they need to significantly increase the tax on buying a second home, like they've done in Israel; and they need to limit the amount of days that houses can be let out on platforms such as Airbnb, like they've done in Paris, Palma and elsewhere.

"The Welsh Government has allowed this to escalate to a point where our communities face the perfect storm: a local housing crisis as demand for social housing outstrips supply, whilst the volume of second homes spirals out of control."

Gwynedd county council has a 50 per cent council tax premium on second homes, using the cash in a bid to alleviate the housing problem. Councillor Craig ab Iago, a housing cabinet member, said: “A roof over our heads is something that most of us take for granted. Sadly though, rocketing house prices, rising social housing waiting lists and a lack of suitable homes mean that what should be a basic human right is a distant dream for many local people.

“This is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is something that Gwynedd Council is determined to put right. We’re setting a new focus on delivering a supply of affordable and sustainable housing for local people for the years ahead.

“To help deliver on this important agenda, the Council has established a new designated housing and property department to help drive the work of creating new homes for Gwynedd residents.

“This work will be supported through funding generated from the council’s second homes council tax premium which means that second home-owners in the county pay an additional 50 per cent on their council tax.

“We believe that this new focus will help in our ambition to ensure affordable homes for our residents, something everyone can surely get behind. To support the transformation that is required, we are introducing a new local need housing policy that will put more emphasis on prioritising local people who need housing. This new policy will offer a simpler system for people wanting to apply for social housing by strengthening the emphasis on local and community connections.

“Further new initiatives to bring empty houses back into use, to increase social housing to boost the number of homes available for local people and to provide practical support for Gwynedd’s first time buyers are also being developed.”