Holyrood rejects Andy Wightman bid for tougher planning laws on Airbnbs
LOTHIAN Green MSP Andy Wightman has vowed to carry on campaigning for restrictions on short-term lets despite losing his bid for tougher planning laws in the Scottish Parliament.
His proposal to tackle the growth of Airbnb and similar letting arrangements by clarifying the law and requiring that all short-term lets apply for council planning consent was rejected.MSPs agreed instead a Tory amendment calling for “control zones” where planning permission would be required.But Mr Wightman claimed they could be “worse than the status quo” because it left the areas outside the zones with unclear rules. He said the short-term let industry had welcomed the Tory plan for control zones as a “wonderful compromise”.He said: “Since I was elected I’ve been working hard to support my constituents whose lives have been made a misery by the dramatic increase in short term lets. It’s hugely disappointing that the SNP has teamed up with the Tories and yielded to industry lobbyists, to the continued detriment of the health and wellbeing of many folk.“It’s deeply disappointing I’ve been unable to secure improvements in the planning system for those affected by the blight of short-term lets. I will continue to fight to defend the residents of Scotland in every way I can.”Borders-based Tory MSP Rachael Hamiton defended her control zone plan and claimed Mr Wightman’s plan would “kill off” tourism growth in areas that needed it.She said: “My amendment seeks to deliver a flexible approach, allowing local authorities that are saturated by short-term lets to regulate, while, on the other hand, allowing for those authorities that do not have that burden not to be legally bound by regulation.”But Mr Wightman’s proposal was backed by Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale who said high rents in the Old Town were driving people out of the city. And she hit out at the control zone proposal. “It kicks the can down the road into grass called ‘One day, maybe’ - and there is no scrutiny over it whatsoever about the size of the control areas, how they would operate, who would decide.”Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson told parliament: “In my constituency alone, 1810 addresses out of a total of 35,443 are registered with Airbnb - that is five per cent of all dwellings in my constituency.“That has had a huge impact on the city and it is why citizens in Edinburgh say that we are increasingly experiencing a Disneylandification of the city. It is changing the nature and affordability of living in Edinburgh.”Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay also praised Mr Wightman’s efforts to tackle the issue. He said: “No-one is saying Airbnb and the like shouldn’t exist, but we have to ensure they are regulated.”