NEW plans that could force people who let out their homes to holiday makers to apply for planning permission have been welcomed by Northumberland Labour.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced that the Government was weighing up the new proposals on Thursday, amid fears local people are being pushed out of tourist hotspots by people using their homes on the likes of Airbnb.

The issue is a problem in some communites in Northumberland, including coastal villages Bamburgh and Beadnell, with the practice leading to rocketing house prices and dwindling numbers of permanent residents.

Welcoming the move from the Government, Northumberland Labour deputy leader Liz Simpson said: “This announcement is very welcome. As we know our county depends on tourism but it should not be at the expense of local people who simply cannot afford to live in their local area.

“The face of many of our beautiful towns and villages has been completely changed with second home properties standing empty for large periods of the year while local people can’t find a place to live. The balance has tipped too far and we’re pleased this is being redressed, albeit a bit late in the day.

“Those whose second homes or short term lets in our county need local people to work in hospitality and the tourist industry but if local people can’t afford to live in the area they can’t afford to work in the area either.

“We agree with the government that tourism brings many benefits and we are proud of our beautiful county which attracts many thousands of people every year, but we can’t allow the situation of local people being pushed out of their local communities by second home owners and short term lets to continue.”

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Gove said short-term lets are leading to locals being pushed out of “cherished towns, cities and villages.” Meanwhile Airbnb has welcomed the move – but warned that any changes must strike a balance so they don’t hit “everyday families who let their space to help afford their home” in their pockets.

A Northumberland Conservatives spokesman said: “We note with interest the comments, and look forward to more details.”