News In Diaspora

Locals fume as ‘England’s Venice’ becomes a ghost town ‘thanks to greedy

Residents of a village coined ‘Venice of England’ in West Sussex have expressed their frustration at wealthy Londoners who have purchased second homes in the area, only to leave them unoccupied for extended periods.

This issue has cast a shadow over Bosham for a considerable amount of time, and back in 2021, it was singled out as one of the primary areas grappling with empty homes within the Chichester district.

The village, known for its historical significance and often likened to The Hamptons, experiences an influx of visitors during the summer and school breaks. These visitors come to relish sailing and sightseeing.

But the community have noticed DFLs (people down from London) swiftly purchasing a second home in the area and then vanishing for most of the year. Once they depart, the village streets are left with a host of uninhabited lodgings, reports The Sun.

Numerous locals are quick to identify residences that for extended periods sit empty. Locals have now expressed that this situation deprives longtime Bosham inhabitants of housing opportunities, all the while contributing to an escalation in property values.

Sophie Green, 34, on a stroll with her newborn, told the tabloid: “We live in a rented property and there are about 11 houses in our close vicinity that are empty.

“Some of them are used for AirBnB, which is great because people are enjoying it. A couple of them just sit there empty all the time. There’s such a lack of community. I think it’s a really sad thing.

“I think those owners should be quite ashamed. They are using up an area that could offer people a home and an amazing community and pricing people out of the property market.”

According to On The Market, the average house price in the area is £841,000 as of January this year, which is a 32.8 percent increase from last year.

Speaking anonymously to the Sun, a 5-year-long resident of Bosham said that second home ownership only becomes an issue when it transforms into an “industry”.

He said: “They make the place feel dead and these could be spaces for other people to live in.”

While Karen Hughes, 60, who has lived in the town for 27 years, said: “It’s sad because there are a lot of beautiful properties in the village that aren’t lived in all the time,” she says.

“I don’t think it adds to the village. They are trying to build within the village at the moment, which a lot of us are opposed to, and yet we’ve got a lot of homes that aren’t used all the time.”

And Landscape owner, Andy Probee, 42, a lifelong resident of the area, said: “I grew up here and luckily enough I own a house here, but most of my friends who are my age, when they start looking to buy a first-time house, they look at the market and find that they’re being pushed out by cash buyers using them as second homes.

Although Chichester District Council has no control over stopping people from buying second homes in the area, they try to discourage people by not offering a second home tax discount.

Accoring to The Sun, a spokesperson from Chichester District Council said: “While it’s not within our control to prevent people from using a property within the district as a second home, Local Authorities have the ability to vary the amount of council tax discount offered to second homeowners.

“As a council, we don’t offer any council tax discounts for second homes in order to discourage people from owning a second home in our district.”

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