COTSWOLD District Council has voted on a new measure which aims to start clamping down on empty properties and second homes across the district.

 Councillors unanimously agreed to introduce a new council tax premium on houses that are left empty for more than a year, or which are being used as second homes, at a full council meeting on Wednesday, March 20.

This move follows a change in legislation that allows councils to charge extra council tax to help bring empty homes back into use.  

CDC estimates that the premium charge will raise more than £3 million and plans to use around £240,000 a year of this on new affordable homes.  

Mike Evemy, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance, said: “We are in the grips of a housing crisis, with property rents and mortgages being out of reach for most people who have grown up in the Cotswolds and want to continue living here.  

“These changes are all about getting more homes back on the open market for local people and we will use the extra funds we get to create more affordable homes in the district. 

"We will also be encouraging the county council and the police, who will also receive more funding, to reinvest it in the area as well. 

"This could be a positive change that will make a real difference to the number of homes available for people to live in. 

“We understand the impact this could have on holiday homes which can’t be used as permanent housing.

"That is why we are proposing to exclude those homes from this tax, subject to final government guidance.” 

The additional tax will apply to empty homes from Monday, April 1 this year, while second homes would see the new rates applied from April 1 next year, following a one-year notice period.