Parks Poised

Park living could be just the housing solution the UK needs, argues Park Home Scene features editor, Jane Herbert.

Park living could be just the housing solution the UK needs, argues Park Home Scene features editor, Jane Herbert.

Parks Poised

According to the latest Government figures (January 2016), an estimated 85,000 households live in park homes, on 2,000 sites in England. Once you factor in the other areas of the UK (and even those parks who fall below the radar), a more accurate figure is likely to be around 2,500 sites, housing an estimated 250,000 people.

The majority of park home sites are privately owned by individuals or larger groups, with a small number owned by local authorities. The many benefits of park home living make for an attractive housing option for retired people. In 2002, 68 per cent of the UK’s mobile home occupants were aged 60 or over.

“At its peak the park home market was increasing at over 4,000 homes per annum, but the lack of new parks saw this decline to 2,250-2,500 in the first half of the noughties,” explains Dean Westmoreland the group chief executive of Omar Group Ltd, one of the UK’s leading companies in the park home market.

“The park home market is inextricably linked to the bricks and mortar property market,” Dean continues. “It is strongest in the south of England, buoyed by higher property prices.”

He explains: “The park home market has only really come back to life in the past year as property prices have risen back to their 2007 levels. The park home market fell off in 2008/9 as UK property prices fell circa 15 per cent. It has subsequently recovered but is still only at 65 per cent of its pre-recessionary levels in 2015. The current park home market is estimated to be worth circa £100m.”

PERFECT SOLUTIONS

For many within the park home industry there is a frustration that park homes represent not only the perfect solution for retirees and the elderly, but also that these types of housing represens an ideal solution to the wider housing shortage. Jon Boston of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association comments: “In a lot of cases market growth has been stymied by the fact that many parks are at, or near, full capacity and therefore not in a position to meet any rise in demand.

“A key challenge is obtaining planning consent for new parks and the development of existing parks,” Jon says.

Matthew Monteith, Group Manager of Turners Parks Group, who operate 38 residential parks throughout the UK agrees: “The main challenge is to continue the work that has been done to lift the perception of park homes.

“This is both from a consumer awareness perspective but also from a government policy position,” he adds. “There is a growing market for low density affordable housing but there are significant challenges when it comes to planning policy.”

Tom Hartley, the entrepreneur behind the luxury Tom Hartley Park and Leisure Homes brand, also echoes this view: “The legislation of the past few years has supported park residents and helped to get rid of some of the cowboys that have given the industry a bad name.

“This is a great thing. However, these improvements have had a less than desirable knock on effect on responsible park owners who invest heavily in their parks and their residents."

: Looking to expand from 479 to 561 homes this year, Warfield Park is set in 92 acres of idyllic wooded parkland.

Looking to expand from 479 to 561 homes this year, Warfield Park is set in 92 acres of idyllic wooded parkland.

BUCKING THE RETIREMENT TREND

Warfield Park in Berkshire covers 92 acres of idyllic wooded parkland that was formerly part of Windsor Great Park and its many natural assets ensure a large waiting list for properties at a site just 25 miles away from central London.

The Home Counties park bucks the trend for retirement-only properties and welcomes people of all ages as residents, as well as operating a sizable rental portfolio. An independent survey in 2013 recorded that although the majority of resident respondents at the park were aged 70-79 (41per cent), 20 per cent of respondents were aged 60 or below and 21per cent were working full time.

Subject to planning permission, the park hopes to expand from its current licence of 479 to 561 homes this year. There are currently 68 rental properties available with four new homes coming soon. Warfield Park is home to many young families including Zoe Paton, who has lived on the park with her husband Scott for eight years.

With a two-year old son and a second baby on the way, the family is hoping to move to a three-bedroom property soon. Initially Zoe was attracted to Warfield Park by its favourable rental deposit scheme that can be up to three times less than the local average.

Zoe says she loves the outside space and comments: “It’s especially lovely to walk around the park in the summer months. “Warfield Park is child – and dog – friendly. Everyone takes a pride in their homes. It’s also in the catchment area for a very good school."

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Holiday Parks Celebrate Awards Success

Woodovis Park owners John and Dorothey Lewis were delighted to take Gold in the Holiday Park of the Year category at the VisitEngland Awards of Excellence.

Woodovis Park owners John and Dorothey Lewis were delighted to take Gold in the Holiday Park of the Year category at the VisitEngland Awards of Excellence.

Holiday Parks Celebrate Awards Success

Woodovis Park near Tavistock was named as England’s top destination for camping and touring guests in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2016. Members of the family-run business stepped up to receive their national trophy in March at VisitEngland’s glittering awards ceremony at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Park owner John Lewis said everyone was extremely proud to have scooped three golds including the top VisitEngland award in its first ever entry to the competition. Darwin Forest Country Park was also recognised at the awards after taking Silver in the Holiday Park of the Year category.

Speaking on behalf of Darwin Forest, chairman Hugh Grayson said: “This award is a testament to the quality and commitment of all our staff, the majority of whom are from the local area.”

Other award winners in the holiday park category included Poston Mill Park Hereford, which scooped the bronze award and Castlerigg Hall Caravan & Camping Park and Padstow Touring Park both came Highly Commended.

Inspirational Leisure Business

Inspirational Leisure Business

Abbeyford Leisure, the owners of Elie Holiday Park, have been named as one of the most inspiring businesses in Britain

Abbeyford Leisure, the owners of Elie Holiday Park, have been named as one of the most inspiring businesses in Britain

A leisure group with six holiday parks in Wales and Scotland has been named as one of the most inspiring businesses in Britain.

Abbeyford Leisure is among the top performing firms included in the recently published ‘London Stock Exchange 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ for 2016. To be included on the list, companies must demonstrate that they have grown their revenue over the past four years, and significantly outperformed their specific sector average.

Abbeyford Leisure has achieved this with an enterprising management team and continued investment in the accommodation and facilities provided to guests across all of its parks.

Abbeyford Leisure chairman David J Evans commented: “We are proud to be recognised for our growth and commitment to excellence, and we thank all our customers for their continued support in making our business a success.”

Park Investment Creates New Jobs

Expansion plans will see Finlake Holiday Park grow by a further 100 lodges and an extra 80 members of staff will be employed.

Expansion plans will see Finlake Holiday Park grow by a further 100 lodges and an extra 80 members of staff will be employed.

Park Investment Creates New Jobs

Up to 80 jobs are set to be created by a £23 million transformation of Finlake Holiday Park in Devon after plans were given the green light by the district council.

By the time of its scheduled completion in the summer of 2018, it is predicted to bring in 15,000 more visitors per year to boost the region’s economy.

Bobby McGhee, CEO at Haulfryn Group, explained: “Approval of our plans has not only unlocked the transformation of Finlake into a premier holiday destination; it will also create new jobs locally and attract more visitors to the area. It’s a real contribution to Devon’s tourist industry."

The upgrade of the holiday park, part of the network run by the family-owned Haulfryn Group, started in March and will take place over three phases, with the potential to expand the facilities further in a fourth phase to meet future demand.

Finlake currently has 415 lodges and employs 120 people, rising to over 200 depending on the time of year. That will grow to 515 lodges with up to 280 people employed during the high season.

Park Tops Charity Target

Park Tops Charity Target

Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park raised over £4,500 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice

Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park raised over £4,500 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice

Staff at Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park have teamed with guests and members of the local community to create a four-figure windfall for St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

A total of just over £4,500 was handed to the hospice appeal, and was the result of a fundraising effort involving many of the park’s 60-plus employees.

For the past 12 months, the park has persuaded guests to put their hands in their pockets in a good cause by arranging a raft of different fun events.

According to park administration manager Sharon Dawes, the aim was to beat the £3,500 total raised by the park last year for the Arundel children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.

And when the tally was counted up, staff were delighted to find the target topped by over £1,000, reaching a total of £4,547.

 

Holiday Home Donation

Holiday Home Donation

Children in Poverty Inverclyde founder Pat Burke (L) and Argyll Holiday’s Hunters Quay Holiday Village general manager David Dain (R) cut the ribbon to the new holiday home.

Children in Poverty Inverclyde, the charity which helps bring a smile to the faces of local kids affected by poverty, has received they keys to a brand new holiday home courtesy of Argyll Holidays.

The new two-bedroom lodge at Argyll Holidays’ popular Hunters Quay Holiday Village will be used by the charity to provide free of charge active family holidays to those who need them but don’t have the funds to take the kids.

The holiday home was bought using a £35,000 donation made by Morrisons Foundation spearheaded by Sean McGowan, Morrisons Greenock general manager, after the supermarket put proceeds from its 5p carrier bag charge towards the project.

Argyll Holidays threw in a spacious wraparound decking to the lodge, creating a fabulous outdoor play space for visiting families.

Picture Caption: Children in Poverty Inverclyde founder Pat Burke (L) and Argyll Holiday’s Hunters Quay Holiday Village general manager David Dain (R) cut the ribbon to the new holiday home.

 

Stoneleigh Show Is First For Lodges

Stoneleigh Show Is First For Lodges

The World of Park & Leisure Home Show will return to Stoneleigh Park from June 9 – 12 inclusive.

The World of Park & Leisure Home Show will return to Stoneleigh Park from June 9 – 12 inclusive.

Organisers of The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show have confirmed that more than 16 of the UK’s leading lodge manufacturers will be attending the hotly anticipated trade show in June.

Showcasing the latest design concepts, the event is a must attend for anyone involved in the holiday park and park home industry.

Confirmed manufacturers include Cambrian Bespoke Leisure Homes, Continental Holiday Homes, Lindera Lodges, Manor Park Homes, Pemberton Leisure Homes, Stately Albion and Willerby Holiday Homes among other big names.

Other exhibitors covering every aspect of park lifestyle from refurbishment, decking, insurance and finance, to spas and hot tubs will also be presenting their latest products and services.

The three-day show returns to Stoneleigh Park from June 9 – 12. Free to attend, free car parking is also available. The doors open at 10am each day and dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.