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Bid to control rise of Airbnb and short-term lets in Badenoch and Strathspey is welcomed

By Gavin Musgrove

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A bid to control the rise in properties being bought for Airbnb and other short term lets in Badenoch and Strathspey has been welcomed.

Highland councillor have agreed a bold attempt to limit the unchecked growth of holiday lets which has meant so many young locals and keyworkers have been unable to afford their own home locally.

It will also allow the control of so-called 'party houses'.

All four local councillors had submitted a motion to Thursday's full meeting of Highland Council to establish a “a Short Term Let Control Area covering the whole of Badenoch and Strathspey.”

The move aiming to use planning law to strike a balance between the vital local tourism industry and affordable homes was backed at Inverness headquarters.

If backed by the Scottish Government, it would bring more planning enforcement into play giving councillors sight of short-term let applications and the chance to have a say.

After the motion was backed, Highland Council convener Bill Lobban said: "I'm really pleased to have the support of my fellow Highland councillors as we attempt to do something about the chronic shortage of housing in Badenoch and Strathspey.

"My motion will mean that we will be asking Scottish Government Ministers to make the strath a Short Term Let Control Zone.

"This means that people will require planning permission to change a home into holiday lets.

"It will also allow us to address the severe problems caused by so called 'party houses'."

There was praise on social media for the move but also some questions.

Jan Morse stated: "Excellent, but who's going to 'police' it?

Councillor Lobban responded that it will be policed by the planning system and neighbours will know if a property has planning permission.

Inverness Highland councillor Ken Gowans said such a control zone was needed for Inverness and other areas too. He added: "Good motion, well supported."

Aviemore resident June Armstrong commented: "Well done, Bill. New measures to regulate holiday lets are badly needed."

Claire Smith posted: "This is great and I hope that it is allowed. Gives our kids a chance of getting on the housing market in the place they grew up."

More on this story in next week's Strathy.

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