Britain's Airbnb hotspots revealed: The 'ruined' coastal towns with the most holiday rentals

Village with 247 short-term lets where locals are forced to live in vans 

You would be hard pressed to find a Briton who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of soaking up the sun and paddling in the surf on one of our glorious beaches.

The shingled-planes of Deal in Kent have long attracted visitors, while tourists travel miles to sample the fresh oysters in Whitstable, a seaside town 25 miles from Canterbury.

But the popularity of Britain’s coastal communities is now threatening their very survival as an influx of holiday lets on the website Airbnb is driving out young families, forcing schools to close and shops to shut.

Abersoch, on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, has just 550 households and a staggering 247 Airbnbs. It draws crowds from Cheshire, Liverpool and Birmingham

Abersoch, on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, has just 550 households and a staggering 247 Airbnbs. It draws crowds from Cheshire, Liverpool and Birmingham

A Mail investigation lays bare the scale of the problem, and has identified the 24 seaside communities that are now Britain’s Airbnb hotspots – including one village that has just 550 households and a staggering 247 Airbnbs.

Abersoch was once a quiet fishing village on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, but its popularity soared in the 1950s as wealthy families flocked to its coast to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now it draws a crowd from Cheshire, Liverpool and Birmingham who seek it out for its pretty seaside coastline.

Tourism was manageable until many of the cottages and farmhouses in the village were converted into Airbnbs, which can now fetch up to £356 a night.

A cosy stone cottage with a striking blue door just outside of Abersoch may once have been home to a family of four but it now brings in up to £1,711 a week, or £6,844 a month on Airbnb.

Although holiday lets are plentiful there is just one long-term rental home available in the village, which is priced at £1,500 a month – well beyond what most residents can afford.

Meanwhile, a typical home in the area is now worth £201,100, much higher than the average price of a terraced house in Wales, which reached £163,789 this year according to online property portal Zoopla.

The impact of the rise in Airbnbs is evident across the community.

Ilfracombe in North Devon is home to several high-profile residents including artists Damien Hirst and Turner Prize nominee George Shaw

Ilfracombe in North Devon is home to several high-profile residents including artists Damien Hirst and Turner Prize nominee George Shaw

Some 180 of the pastel-coloured properties in Appledore, Devon have been turned into Airbnbs, equivalent to one holiday let for every ten households

Some 180 of the pastel-coloured properties in Appledore, Devon have been turned into Airbnbs, equivalent to one holiday let for every ten households

The village’s only primary school, Ysgol Abersoch, was forced to close two years ago due to a lack of pupils in a blow that at the time residents described as ‘ripping the heart’ out of the community.

Many shops, restaurants and pubs are now only open at the weekend or between the months of March and September, when tourist footfall is the highest.

Further down the beautiful cliff-lined coast of West Wales lies Newport, a small bustling town with 368 Airbnbs, equal to one holiday let for every two and a half households.

Chris Bailey, national campaign manager at campaign group Action on Empty Homes, said communities are now being ‘hollowed out’ as they no longer have a year-round economy.

‘With a visitor economy you lose the availability of affordable housing for young people to start families,’ he said.

‘There is also no accommodation for those on lower incomes, who are the type of people who would be working in pubs, restaurants and hotels.’

It’s a similar story in Ilfracombe, a small harbour town nearly 300 miles away in North Devon.

Deal in Kent is a popular tourist destination but was previously a hotspot for fishing and mining

Deal in Kent is a popular tourist destination but was previously a hotspot for fishing and mining

Tourists travel miles to sample the fresh oysters in Whitstable, a seaside town 25 miles from Canterbury

Tourists travel miles to sample the fresh oysters in Whitstable, a seaside town 25 miles from Canterbury

Locals in Whitby, North Yorkshire, took to the polls in 2022 to limit the sales of second homes, with more than 90 per cent of residents voting to bring in restrictions

Locals in Whitby, North Yorkshire, took to the polls in 2022 to limit the sales of second homes, with more than 90 per cent of residents voting to bring in restrictions

Once a humble trading port on the Bristol Channel, the town is home to several high-profile residents including artists Damien Hirst and Turner Prize nominee George Shaw.

Although there are just 5,042 households left in the town, the number of Airbnbs has ballooned to 368.

Meanwhile, just 11 rental properties are available on Rightmove, including a two-bedroom flat priced at £1,200 a month and a four bedroom family home for £1,300 a month.

A typical home in the region is now worth £311,300, well above the average price of a terraced house in the UK, which hit £271,730 this year.

Just 45 minutes down the coast in Appledore, 180 of the town’s pastel-coloured properties have been turned into Airbnbs, equivalent to one holiday let for every ten households.

A renovated fisherman’s house on one of Appledore’s most popular streets is available for £246 a night, or £6,044 a month on the platform.

Rowland Atkinson, a professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield, said landlords are now evicting tenants, forcing them out of the community they may have been raised or work in.

‘Landlords are tipping tenants out in order to turn the properties into an Airbnb because what they can get on a weekend or weekly basis is way more,’ he said.

‘For young people all the local economy is providing is relatively low paid, insecure positions. Community cohesion has been destroyed in a lot of places and that is generating massive resentment.’

In September North Devon Council put forward plans to crack down on residential properties in the area in a bid to tackle the housing crisis in the county.

The plans were intended to block the 1,100 houses of multiple occupancy in North Devon from being rented out as holiday lets.

Graham Bell, a North Devon Councillor and the lead member for housing, said the lack of residents in the area is piling pressure on local services.

‘I work at the local hospital, and we are having massive problems as we’re losing staff because we have trainers, nurses or allied professionals who are forced out of the area,’ he said.

A cottage in Appledore which is being let as an Airbnb for a price of £271 per night

A cottage in Appledore which is being let as an Airbnb for a price of £271 per night

The property, on the Devonshire coast, boasts sea views

The property, on the Devonshire coast, boasts sea views

In Woolacombe, North Devon, the town's pharmacy nearly closed down due to a lack of local business

In Woolacombe, North Devon, the town's pharmacy nearly closed down due to a lack of local business

In Newport, West wales, there are 368 Airbnbs which is equal to one holiday let for every two and a half households

In Newport, West wales, there are 368 Airbnbs which is equal to one holiday let for every two and a half households

‘The pharmacy in the town of Woolacombe almost closed down because it was losing business.’

Many of the people employed in the town’s shops and restaurants have now resorted to living in vans as they cannot afford a property, he said.

Other areas have also started to fight back.

Residents in Whitby, a maritime town in North Yorkshire, took to the polls in 2022 to limit the sales of second homes, with more than 90 per cent of residents voting to bring in restrictions.

But despite the new rules there are still 744 Airbnbs in the town, proving that more can be done to stop the soaring number of holiday lets.

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