GOVERNMENT proposals to curb a proliferation of short-term holiday lets have been welcomed by West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

With Exmoor among the Westcountry’s most popular tourist areas, Mr Liddell-Grainger said some form of regulation was necessary to restore order to the rented housing sector while allowing tourism businesses to recruit the staff they needed.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove wants to bring forward legislation which would require homeowners to obtain planning consent before converting properties for short-term letting.

Mr Gove has announced a Government consultation on the issue.

Hundreds of new holiday lets were created to meet a surge in demand when national lockdowns during the Covid pandemic put foreign holidays out of bounds.

But while they fuelled a short-term boom for the Westcountry’s tourism sector, many businesses catering for visitors, such as hotels and restaurants, were unable to attract staff because seasonal accommodation was no longer available.

There were reports of some having to pay travelling expenses to staff members who were making round trips of 80 miles a day to and from work.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said it was clear some form of legislative intervention was needed.

He said: “What started out as a short-term phenomenon during the pandemic has developed into a long-term trend and clearly there are thousands of families now caught up in this crazy spiral of rising prices and decreasing supply.

“I am the last one to oppose anything which inhibits the development of our tourism sector, but clearly the disbenefits associated with the growth of short-term lets are such that some form of legislation is needed to restore balance to the sector.”