9 May 2014

Should I, Would I, Could I?

Last week we hired a cottage in Settle and stayed there for the Ride2stride Walking Festival. The town was full, with walkers staying in cottages, pubs, B&Bs, tents and caravans. Our cottage was lovely. Converted from a garage attached to the owner's own house it had a small living room/kitchen that opened straight off the street with a bedroom and ensuite above. Charming and quite big enough for 2 people on a walking holiday but certainly not big enough for a full time residence.

I've always had very mixed feelings about holiday cottages. I'm from Dent where 20% of the houses are holiday or second homes. When my mum and dad retired they had to leave the farm, the house went with Dad's job. 

Our farm
Second home ownership had pushed up the prices of cottages beyond anything a retired shepherd and his wife could afford. It was an anxious time. They were lucky - a housing association was building homes in the village and they lived out the rest of their lives in the Dale that they both loved. Young people are not so lucky.They often end up moving away from the villages they've grown up in. In Dentdale over half of the residents have lived there for less than 10 years and 40% are retired. 

So, should we buy second homes? Holiday cottages in towns like Settle and villages like Dent that we can go to for weekends and holidays and let out to family and friends. It's tempting isn't it, especially for those of us who live our real lives in large towns and cities? Or should we stay in pubs and on campsites and hope that the pints we buy and the chocolate bars and the fish and chips do something to help keep small businesses alive in our towns and villages? What do you think? 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Where I live on the West Coast of Scotland, around 12% of our houses are second homes/holiday cottages. Whilst tourism and visitors are one of the mainstays of our economy, the sheer number of second homes has lead to an acute shortage of affordable housing, a lack of income to the local authority (so the rest of us have to pay more) fewer folk to support our local shops,, pubs closing, in part because these houses are empty in the winter months. There needs to be a defined balance of second homes to main residences if our fragile rural communities are going to survive.