St Ives is to hold a vote on whether new-build homes should be sold only to locals.

Lorrainne SmythLorrainne Smyth, chief executive, Action with Communities in Cumbria:  What we hear from communities on the ground is that second homes reduce the services in a village, because there are fewer people all year round using the garage, the pub, the shop, the school.

That’s a very traditional argument. But we also hear that people with second homes sometimes retire to a village later on, and put a lot into the community.

Or then again they might want to keep it like a chocolate box, not wanting any change, and that isn’t helpful. It’s really for communities to look at their own situation and think about what will keep them alive. Y

ou do have the situation where some houses are standing empty three-quarters of the year, and with a farming economy or tourist economy or retail economy all low-wage, people can’t afford to buy. 

Some do say: “If you’re looking for more affordable housing, move to an urban area.” 

But if people want to live somewhere because they work there or their family live there, shouldn’t that be a possibility for them?

We don’t want to see our rural areas depopulated.

Judith DerbyshireJudith Derbyshire, Eden District councillor for Dacre and chair of governors of Patterdale School:  We have an issue in the Lake District about whether there are enough children to support some of the small schools. You have villages in Cumbria where 80 per cent of houses are second homes or holiday lets.

In a normal housing market, small houses are the ones that young people buy, and they’ll move to something bigger as their family grows. But those small houses are very attractive as holiday homes.

Three of the houses closest to me in Stainton are all holiday homes. In a lot of rural areas you end up with sky-high house prices driven up by people retiring and buying a second home, and local people on local wages can’t afford to live there. What’s going to happen in the long term if there are only older people here?

The Government are widening the definition of “affordable housing” as housing up to 80 per cent of the market rate for local people under 40, but in the Lake District that is far too high.

We need to build more houses but we need to ensure they have local occupancy restrictions. And we need more grants for housing associations and community land trusts to build truly affordable housing.

Sally FieldingSally Fielding, owner of holiday lettings business Sally’s Cottages:  It is a fine line, it is a balance to make.

Instead of a ban, we have local occupancy regulations which work well.

If you think about Eskdale, where I grew up, there are five pubs, two churches and other businesses and they are only possible because they get the tourists in.

When I lived in Eskdale, we would go to the pub, but not every week.

But if you have visitors staying in a cottage they will go at least once during a stay and they will use the local shop.

You hear of pubs and shops closing all over the country and it is sad .

Of course, you need people to live in a village for the community, which is why local occupancy is so good, but we need tourists to keep the economy going.

As well as bringing money into the area, second homes also provide work for cleaners, plumbers and other workers, these businesses depend on each other.

If someone from out of the county wants to buy a home, they have to pay more money for a home that does not have the local occupancy clause.

Linda Furniss, tourism officer for the Keswick Tourism Association:  It is a very difficult question.

We want to attract visitors, as much as 98 per cent of employment in Keswick is based on tourism.

We wouldn’t have as many schools here, or two or three supermarkets, we wouldn’t have so many cleaners for the cottages or jobs going in cafes, bars and restaurants, or electricians and plumbers.

It is all driven by tourism and often farming overlaps.

So employment and tourism and Keswick thriving as a town all goes hand in hand.

House prices are high and it is a question of where those employees live and quite lot of people who work in Keswick live out west.

I live in Braithwaite where we have two shops and three pubs and they wouldn’t be there without tourism.

It is a difficult situation, but we have quite a lot of housing stock which is governed by local occupancy rules and we have some new developments ongoing.

Obviously, there is always going to be a demand, but I do think the local occupancy regulations are a good thing and do help the situation.