Bid to limit holiday lets in Aviemore area as locals struggle to find homes

The number of holiday rentals in the Aviemore area are set to be restricted under plans designed to halt the loss of homes for local people.

Highland Council has applied to the Scottish Government for a short-term let control area to cover Badenoch and Strathspey to counteract the impact of holiday rental sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com.

The area includes Aviemore, Kingussie, Grantown-On-Spey and Newtonmore, all which sit in Cairngorms National Park and attract a large number of visitors given their easy reach to the great outdoors.

The local authority said it was now concerned about the number of flats and houses being used as temporary holiday accommodation, with housing stock now restricted for permanent residents as a result.

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Around 17 per cent of potential housing stock in Badenoch and Strathspey has been lost to tourist accommodation, according to research by the local authority, with the rise in holiday accommodation leaving local people struggling to access – or afford – to buy or rent homes.

Bill Lobban, independent councillor for Badenoch and Strathspey on Highland Council, said there was now a “serious problem” with the number of short-term lets in the area.

He said: “There has to be a balance between holiday accommodation and accommodation for local people, particularly for those who live and work here for the tourism industry. At the moment, we have a housing crisis and local people are being driven out of the market.

Loch Morlich near Aviemore is a popular draw in all seasons. The number of holiday lets in the Aviemore area is set to be controlled given the high numbers of properties which are now out of reach for local residents given the rise in people letting out homes on a short-term basis to tourists. PIC: Peter Jolly/Shutterstock.

"The hot spots are in and around Aviemore, but that is beginning to expand right across Badenoch and Strathspey.”

He added: “It’s a balancing act and, at the moment, the balance has gone far, far too much on the side of the short-term let.”

Cllr Lobban said residents had welcomed the proposed control area on holiday rentals.

He said: “Local residents realise that their children won’t be able to get an affordable house in Badenoch and Strathspey.”

Some local businesses are believed to have concerns over the control area given the importance of tourism to the local economy.

Cllr Lobban said: "I am aware there are some concerns, but there are a also many businesses who can’t open in the way they used to as they can’t find staff and one of the reasons is the staff can’t find anywhere to live.”

Cairngorms Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce for the area, was unable to comment on the proposals.

Edinburgh City Council is looking to bring in its own short-term let control area and is consulting on how it should function.

Cllr Lobban said the new rules would apply both retrospectively and to those wanting to bring a new holiday let on to the market, although the final details had yet to be confirmed.

Purpose-built holiday accommodation – such as pods or chalets – long-term rentals or those renting out individual rooms in a property lived in by the owner won’t be affected by the control order.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is bringing in separate licences for all forms of short-term lets to insure properties meet safety requirements and to give neighbours an avenue to raise issues connected to the rental.

The Scottish Government is expected to decide on the short-term control order for Badenoch and Strathspey by the end of the year, it is understood.

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