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Airbnbs and short-term lets driving people out of Cambridge housing market, says Lib Dem councillor

The rise in Cambridge homes being converted into Airbnbs and short-term lets is squeezing people out of the housing market, a city councillor claims.

Cllr Karen Young (Lib Dem, Queen Edith’s) has proposed a motion to the full council meeting tomorrow (October 19) asking for the authority to urge the government to impose more regulation to help authorities control the number of conversions.

The rise in short-term lets is forcing people out the Cambridge housing market, a councillor claims
The rise in short-term lets is forcing people out the Cambridge housing market, a councillor claims

She said there are currently few controls, meaning “uncontrolled changes” are impacting the market, particularly squeezing out young people who may have grown up in the city.

Cllr Young also has called for the city council to look at how it can use the emerging joint Local Plan blueprint for Greater Cambridge to “address these concerns” with powers at the authority’s disposal.

She said: “Advertising a room on Airbnb and other similar platforms started off as a practical way to generate occasional income for a few, renting out a spare room or a whole dwelling for a few weeks of the year whilst on holiday, but the practice has grown hugely since the site was founded and is now enormously commercialised.

“This has had the effect of taking out privately owned and rented property from the market for long-term living, and putting it in the market for short term and holiday lets and other temporary use.

“Currently, there are few or no proactive controls available to the local planning authority or council to oversee such changes of use, particularly in smaller properties, and therefore no means by which neighbours can put forward their views on such changes, or where additional comings and goings from servicing of such properties can be properly assessed.

“Uncontrolled changes of residential property to continuous short term lets have the effect of squeezing the housing market for people who want to live close to where they work.

“In particular, driving out young people at the lower end of the price range who want to live where they were brought up and raise children and thus reducing the long term sustainability of communities.

“In some cases [it is] enabling a source of neighbourhood nuisance by virtue of the use of inappropriate buildings or locations, turning Cambridge into a town with unsuitable or substandard accommodation for visitors to Cambridge.”

The issue was raised by Lib Dem group leader Cllr Tim Bick back in 2017, when he warned it was driving up prices and causing neighbourhood disturbances.

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