New planning bill gives local authorities powers control holiday lets

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The new Planning Bill which the Scottish Parliament passed on June 20 includes “new powers for local authorities to introduce control areas where planning permission will always be required if owners want to change the use of their property to short-term lets”.

It is generally accepted that the market for second homes and holiday letting in St Andrews and the East Neuk has had negative impacts. It has driven up prices, reduced housing availability for permanent residents and helped to price many locals out of the housing market altogether. It has also undermined the health and vibrancy of communities because of depopulation and a decline in local services and amenities.

It is thought that there are some 40 Airbnb properties in St Andrews and more are let through other platforms or agents. And the number is growing in St Andrews and the East Neuk.

In St Andrews, the combined pressures of holiday lets, second homes and HMOs had led to a halving of the permanent resident population over the past 20 years. In May this year Fife Council adopted an overprovision policy in order to limit the number of HMOs and now it has a tool with which to put a brake on the growth in holiday lets.

East Neuk & Landward councillor Linda Holt welcomed these new powers for councils, saying “I will be urging the administration at Fife Council to designate both St Andrews and the East Neuk as control areas.The proliferation of AirBnB and other short-term letting has become a major problem in parts of Edinburgh, which is why the Scottish Government has introduced these new powers”.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the East Neuk, but it is important to balance its needs against the needs of our resident communities. Otherwise we risk ruining the very thing which makes the East Neuk so attractive to visitors and residents alike.”

For the main provisions of the bill, go to:

For the background to the St Andrews HMO problem, click here and for the overprovision policy decision click here

St Andrews QV (Qui Vive) is an independent not-for-profit, non-political platform for news and debates about issues that are important to the Town. It exists to hold decision makers and public services to account while its editorial policy is to accommodate all shades of opinion from all parts of the community, prioritising evidence-based arguments. St Andrews QV is a member of the Independent Community News Network and is committed to the Community Journalism Charter

1 comment

  1. Dear all,
    One thing that caught my attention was the pressing need for student accommodation in the area. Students are desperately inquiring about holiday properties in St. Andrews on websites like This underscores the importance of finding solutions to this accommodation challenge.

    It will be interesting to hear how the government intends to address this issue.

    Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds!

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