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France

Corsican politician wants 'locals only' housing market

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-08-12

A leading Corsican politician said he wants to ban non-residents from buying properties on the Mediterranean island, citing rampant property speculation that is forcing locals out of the market.

The head of Corsica’s Executive Council said Wednesday that he plans to stop foreigners – including French citizens on the mainland – from buying land or houses on the Mediterranean island.

Paul Giacobbi, of the centre-left PRG party, told regional newspaper Corse Matin that too many properties on what the French call the “Island of Beauty” were second homes, and property speculation was forcing prices up and out of the reach of ordinary islanders.

He proposed that anyone wanting to buy a home in Corsica would have to prove at least five years’ residency, while allowances would be made for people living on the mainland or abroad who can “prove a link to Corsica”.

“If one can buy land here as easily as you could buy a bar of chocolate in a supermarket, then we are heading for catastrophe,” he said. “The only solution is to limit access for non-residents.”

Corsica is a hugely popular tourist destination, but it is also plagued by high unemployment and organised crime, which has been linked to property speculation.

‘Anti-constitutional’

It is also a hotbed of nationalist politics. Nationalists opposed for foreign investment in Corsican properties as second homes have often resorted to using explosives to blow up houses as a warning to others to leave the island alone or face the consequences.

His proposals are likely to be popular with islanders, even if any changes face battles in French and European courts.

“This is an anti-constitutional project that flouts the idea of equality for everyone before the law,” Marie-Dominique Roustan-Lanfranchi of the anti-nationalist association France-Corse told French daily Le Figaro on Thursday.

“Property prices are rising everywhere, in regions such as the south of France and in Paris. People have to stop thinking that Corsica is alone. Why are we always treated differently compared to other French regions?”

Roustan-Lanfranchi added that the real problem was not foreign investment, but rather a backwards and over-conservative attitude to development.

“The issue is that there is simply not enough land earmarked for construction,” she said.

“Town halls need proper urban planning projects, something many don’t have. They could regulate the property market by, for example, favouring social housing projects.

“Forbidding foreign [including mainland France] investment will have a negative effect on an important part of the local economy which is actually doing well.”

Date created : 2013-08-08

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