North of England: Whitby fights for its people


Europa magazine

Status: 07/31/2022 04:01

As a holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, Whitby attracts wealthy investors who buy holiday rental properties and displace residents. Increasingly, they are forced to leave their village and fight.

Author: Anna Mundt, ARD Studio London

Whitby can easily be described as Little North Cornwall. The small town is surrounded by the picturesque Yorkshire coast, the harbor basin stretches inland like a tongue. The ruins of an old abbey tower over the steep coast. An idyll in the North East of England that attracts thousands of tourists and holidaymakers. They’re actually welcome: tourism is a key economic factor for Whitby. But the mood in the city is changing.

Sarah Blackwell is sitting at the kitchen table searching the Internet for houses. Its roots go back to Whitby, family and friends live here. But he has to live a few miles outside. Though she earns good money, she says frustratedly, she cannot find her own apartment in Whitby. “Any suitable home that comes on the market is bought immediately. You have to beat 20 to 30 candidates. ” And they would offer prices for the moon. Totals none of Whitby could afford.

Anger about second homes in Great Britain

Anna Mundt, ARD London, Europamagazin, July 31, 2022.

Lack of living space for the next generation

Buyers of flats and houses often do not come from the neighborhood. Wealthy Britons often look for a second home in beautiful Whitby. Or investors who have discovered the charm of this place and want to turn former family lodgings into accommodation for overnight tourists. Locals like Blackwell are lagging behind because they are powerless over foreign capital.

After work, he trains youth in Whitby at a boxing school. There, in the evenings, the next generation hits the sandbags. For now, it seems hopeless that young people will find a place to live in the village. More likely even her parents could be kicked out. “If people aren’t part of this community anymore, and it can happen to anyone here, the boxing club will die, too,” Blackwell fears. That is why it is so important that cheap housing is available.

Sarah Blackwell teaches teenagers to box. The fact that they will own an apartment in Withby seems impossible today – even she had to move out.

Photo: Anna Mundt

Quality of life is declining

Pete Croft helped organize a referendum to help Whitby’s citizens stand up to wealthy invaders. Big companies bought land and converted it into small holiday units, laments, “Everything for maximum profit.” The consequences are already felt. There is a kind of domino effect: because the villagers cannot find an apartment in the village and have to leave, others also feel compelled to leave the village. As schools get empty and empty, says Croft. The hospital is having difficulties with supplies – due to a lack of staff. The quality of life in beautiful Whitby is declining. And Croft wants to change that again.

He and his campaign mates held a referendum in mid-June. The question was whether newly built homes should be reserved for Whitby residents. 93 percent voted for the proposal. The vote is not legally binding, but citizens are hoping that the municipal administration will do something in response to a clear request – and do the best to implement the proposal. They have the support of some city councilors. The municipality is working, at least according to its own statements, on a regulation that aims to restrict secondary homes. How exactly is it still open.

Pete Croft co-sponsored the vote to legally regulate property purchases in the city.

Photo: Anna Mundt

“Tons of Bills” by Tourism

Dale Smith is against keeping investors out of town. Whitby offers investors and accommodation owners an all-round carefree service: he takes care of the property while they are away. It collects what guests of holiday apartments need or arranges repairs if the apartments are not visited for a long time. Smith believes Whitby needs to focus on tourism. After all, every guest spends money. “It brings a lot of money to our economy.”

Withby is a popular tourist destination – investors have also discovered this place for themselves. Residents are at a disadvantage.

Photo: Anna Mundt

He’s right about that. However, few in Whitby are against tourists. Just for a good balance. When the holiday season is over, says Pete Croft, the same Whitby, about the ghost town. Then the houses would be empty. Pubs, cafes and restaurants would close. “If this continues, the place will die.”

Whitby has no shortage of potential residents as well. Like Sarah Blackwell, most of the “forced” ones want to come back as soon as possible. He sees the referendum as a hopeful first step: he believes it will help many of the city’s residents. residents and tourists. After all, the charm of a small town in the north of England is not only a picturesque landscape. But also from the locals who live in Whitby.

You can see this and other reports in Europamagazin – on Sunday at 12.45 in the first.

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