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Short Term Let Control Area Covering Badenoch & Strathspey Proposed

The following Notice of Motion has been received by the Head of Corporate Governance, Highland Council, and will be voted on today:

“Given the serious problems occurring in Badenoch & Strathspey due to the massive increase in Short Term Lets and the effect that has on the provision of permanent dwellings, that the Council agrees a draft proposal to designate a Short Term Let Control Area covering the whole of Badenoch & Strathspey as detailed under the Town and Country Planning (Short-term Let Control Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.”

Short-term lets are often positioned as being a leading cause of Scotland’s housing crisis. It is vital to place the debate in a holistic context – for example, appreciating the number of empty homes in Scotland, demographic changes (population increasing), and the need to build more homes – while at the same time recognising the value of tourist accommodation to the Scottish economy and local communities.

How many Short-term lets are there in Badenoch and Strathspey? There are 5,800 SCUs in whole of Highland region (25,656 km²). There are 2595 empty homes in Highland.

The ASSC doesn’t dispute that there is a housing crisis, but housing needs to be looked at strategically. However, there is no point scapegoating the self-catering sector that benefits the Scottish economy to the tune of £867m per annum.

Self-catering properties are legitimate, bona fide businesses where the owners depend on the money generated for their livelihood – it is not a hobby or a way to supplement their income.

Airbnb listings, nor scraped data, do not translate to homes that will ever be available on the private market. Airbnb listings include boutique hotels, shepherds huts, yurts, campsites and indeed a train.

Any decision to regulate the short-term letting sector needs to be underpinned by robust, empirical data. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency to do the exact opposite and policy decisions are being based on inaccurate information and flawed methodologies – which leads to misleading conclusions about the nature of the short-term letting landscape and may irreparably damage tourism in Scotland.

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