Published On: Sat, Mar 9th, 2024

English village ‘completely changed’ – locals rage as they’re overrun by Airbnbs | Travel News | Travel

Castle Combe is a quaint and once quiet Cotswolds village in Wiltshire, England with a population of less than 400 people, but its numbers may be dwindling due to its popularity. 

It is famous for its charming honey-coloured cottages and cobblestone streets as well as its rich medieval history, with the local St Andrew Church dating back to the 13th century.

However, residents fear their way of life may be diminishing as the number of people who live in the village permanently has fallen, with many homes being bought as holiday homes or as Airbnbs.

Anna Roberts, a local tearoom owner, has lived in Castle Combre for over 20 years and claims only 50 percent of residents now live there full-time.

She said: “There has been a lot of changes in the village over the years. When we first moved here 20 years ago, I would say that the village was 95 per cent occupied by residents.

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“As time has gone on, we are now under 50 per cent occupied by residents. This is because as houses go up for sale we are finding very few people who want to move in and live here.

Anna explained that the local community had “completely changed” as people who own second homes are unlikely to take part in local events.

In an interview with SWNS, Anna said: “At one time, we knew everyone who lived in every house. It was a very good community, a close community, and there was a real family feel.

“Now, unfortunately, those people who live here part-time or have it as a holiday home, they don’t really get involved in things. It has become very different. Having the business is what keeps us here.

“It is a beautiful village and it’s a lovely house but at the end of the day, it is a very tourist village.

Anna added: “If I didn’t run a business from here we wouldn’t want to stay here.”

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Castle Combre has exploded in popularity on social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram in recent years, with the most popular pictures and video clips earning millions of views.

The village is often voted the best-looking village in the whole of Britain, as it was named the UK’s number one “prettiest village” by FBM Holidays as well as one of the “most beautiful small towns in the world” by CN Traveler.

Georgina Kingshott, a local resident, has said Castle Combre’s tourists have often invaded her privacy by flying drones over her home, sitting on her fence or even coming into her garden.

She said: “People will pitch up at one of the benches and be here all day, like it is the beach.

“It is terrible because during lockdown it was great. The other bad thing is that people will fly their drones across the village.”

Georgina has said the tourists have begun to feel “intrusive” and there are now a number of signs asking visitors to respect local privacy.

She added: “There are coaches that come and do guided tours of the Cotswolds so we will have those pitch up a few times a day.

“It’s nice for us as we have the gate stopping people from coming in, but sometimes people will pretend not to see it and sit on this side of the fence which they are not meant to.

“I always feel a bit like ‘get off my land’. It can be intrusive with people running up and down.”

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