Home Grown Success

Home Grown Success

Killarney Park was the Kellam’s first park and is still the flagship of the Killarney Homes portfolio.

Killarney Park was the Kellam’s first park and is still the flagship of the Killarney Homes portfolio.

Nottinghamshire–based Killarney Homes started life in the 1960s when David and Sheila Kellam purchased land to create Killarney Park. The couple built Killarney into a successful holiday park with a clubhouse, swimming pool and fish & chip bar. When home-grown tourism started to decline in the mid- 1980s, their son Gary, who had previously joined the family firm aged just 16, saw the opportunity to develop the park for residential use. Today, Gary and his wife Joanne, still oversee the business but their daughter Sophie and son Alex, are increasingly taking the reins. The Killarney Homes portfolio now includes three parks and employs 11 full time staff. Despite its growth, the family firm ethos is still central to everything they do. Their philosophy is that “Killarney is small enough to care and experienced enough to cope.”

“Mum does the accounts, Dad oversees things, Alex does the ground works and I look after the office,” explains Sophie. “One year, Dad put 18 homes on Killarney Park in a 12 month period with the help of just two staff. Now, we have a small team of staff to help us but we take a personal interest in everything and like to get to know all our owners and tenants. We don’t have ‘departments’ for marketing, sales, accounting, IT and so on… we’ve just been doing it for 60 years so the park business is in our blood!” Killarney Homes has over 185 private residential homes with 300+ residents and 200 rental properties with around 300 tenants. Killarney Park and Willow Park are purely for home-owners, whilst Moor Farm Park offers short term rental accommodation.

FLAGSHIP SITE : Killarney Park is still very much the flagship of the business. Located just six miles northeast of Nottingham in 35 acres of picturesque woodland, this gated community offers 148 homes. Designed exclusively for the over 45s, Killarney Park mostly contains park homes in the traditional style and offers a range of amenities to keep even the most active residents busy. An on-site clubhouse offers a wide range of regular activities including arts and crafts classes, exercise clubs, supper evenings and themed party nights. According to Sophie, Killarney Park “offers residents the serenity of the countryside with all the conveniences of modern daily life nearby.” A courtesy bus service offers regular trips to the local market town of Arnold, as well as Nottingham and Mansfield. The local area also offers plenty of natural beauty with walking trails, golf courses and many historic places to visit. Five years ago, the Kellam family started to develop Willow Park. Offering modern and exclusive accommodation for the over 45s, Willow Park offers sustainable luxury living in a sheltered valley on the edge of the pretty village of Calverton, ten miles outside Nottingham. A partnership with Stately Albion has been key to the development of Willow Park. “We have worked exclusively with Stately Albion to create beautiful homes for Willow Park,” explains Sophie. “Vaulted ceilings, exterior cladding, triple glazed windows – these gorgeous, modern homes challenge the ‘traditional view’ of park homes.”

Willow Park offers residents modern homes and plenty of green space.

Willow Park offers residents modern homes and plenty of green space.

GREEN CREDENTIALS : “The homes also have the most fantastic eco-credentials. Specifically designed for low carbon footprint lifestyles with double the insulation of a standard build, they can reduce energy bills by up to 50% and save residents money, as well as the environment.” Willow Park has just 35 available plots with new homes being added all the time. Each home is set in its own private garden with driveway parking for two cars. The design of the park allows for plenty of green space and residents have use of a communal allotment and composter for garden waste. All the water supplied to the homes is sourced directly on site from the park’s own natural spring, providing the most affordable water rates in the area. Killarney Homes’ final park is also located on the outskirts of Calverton. Moor Farm Park provides affordable rental accommodation starting from just £55 per week.

Killarney Homes Tel. 0115 965 2426 www.killarneyhomes.co.uk

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Value Added

value added

Always a warm welcome - Chek Whyte of Richmond Wight Estates.

Value Added

Richmond Wight Estates specialises in turnaround projects - buying parks in distress and re-developing them into successful and sustainable businesses.

In just three years Richmond Wight Estates has turned around and developed 15 parks and now owns and operates seven.

Formed in 2013, Richmond Wight is very much a family business. Managed by Chek Whyte, who formerly worked for Lifestyle Living. Chek’s son Charlie has a major role as Operations Manager for Scotland, where the majority of their current park portfolio is situated. The company employs around 50 staff across their portfolio, which is managed from their head office in Nottingham.

Richmond Wight’s Scottish parks include Glendevon, Moffat Manor and Riverview Country Parks, as well as a new holiday development close to Edinburgh called Rutherford Castle Lodge and Golf Resort. The company is also expanding south of the border with a number of parks in the south of England currently under development or offer.

“We offer a full turnaround business and only invest in parks in distress,” says Chek. “Re-developing the neglected parks we buy adds value and restores security. “Inevitably, we sometimes crack a few eggs as we go in but the long-term sustainable benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Without us, the parks would close and people would lose their homes.”

Richmond Wight’s main residential parks are situated in some of the most picturesque locations in Scotland amidst stunning and peaceful scenery that belies their turbulent history.

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Wyldecrest Park Homes Expansion

Wyldecrest Park Homes Expansion

Wyldecrest Parks hope the development may accommodate as many as 750 park homes in the future.

Wyldecrest Parks hope the development may accommodate as many as 750 park homes in the future.

 

Wyldecrest Parks is expanding its Herefordshire holiday park, Saltmarshe Castle, to include a new residential park home development.

The first phase of the homes is already underway in the Tower Court area of the park, which is being extensively redeveloped. Interest in the initial 29 plots has been high with many premium plot locations already reserved. Wyldecrest Parks hope the development may accommodate as many as 750 park homes in the future.

Saltmarshe Castle Park offers stunning vistas over the Bromyard Downs and Malvern Hills. The site currently has 340 holiday home owners and 13 holiday let units. Facilities at the park a fishing lake, play area and a recreation field, along with forest trails, a club complex, shop and restaurant.

Wyldecrest Parks are undertaking a comprehensive development programme throughout the park with many historic and original features of the 19th century estate being restored. Rental holiday units and a new touring caravan area will also be updated. According to Alfie Best, Chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, Saltmarshe Castle Park’s many natural assets made it a natural choice for an expansion into residential development.

“The park’s premier location, its extension and its outstanding beauty are impossible to deny and those were the main factors that contributed towards our decision,” explains Mr. Best. “It would have been a shame not to take advantage of those natural factors – everything was there already, we just had to see it. “Besides that, this park is set on the grounds of the old Saltmarshe Castle, which was used as a residential house, so it all comes together perfectly.”

Innovative Scheme To Prevent Fuel Poverty

Innovative Scheme To Prevent Fuel Poverty

A number of park homes at Wyldecrest’s Orchard Park, similar to those pictured, have undergone insulation improvements

A number of park homes at Wyldecrest’s Orchard Park, similar to those pictured, have undergone insulation improvements

An innovative scheme to install energy efficiency measures at a park home site in Elton, Cheshire has lifted vulnerable residents out of fuel poverty.

Managed by Cheshire West and Chester Council and part funded by National Energy Action, this is the first significant subsidised energy efficiency scheme in the area to target park homes.

Orchard Park is situated in a rural off-gas area and contains 109 privately owned park homes. All residents with non-insulated properties expressed interest in the scheme, with those living in the oldest park homes prioritised for works.

In total, 52 of the most energy inefficient properties received insulation measures by approved installer Cornerstone.

Critical to the success of the project was the support of site owner Wyldecrest and the buy-in of Site Manager Ann Raywood.

Ann commented: “Every single resident expressed interest in the insulation scheme – it has been so popular and made such a difference to the living conditions of our residents. I hope more residents are able to benefit from schemes like this in the future.”

Two Become One In Multi-Million Pound Merger

Two Become One In Multi-Million Pound Merger

Prestige Park & Leisure Homes and Homeseeker Park & Leisure Homes have formally merged following a refinancing deal.

Prestige Park & Leisure Homes and Homeseeker Park & Leisure Homes have formally
merged following a refinancing deal.

Two of the UK’s leading names in the leisure lodge and park residential manufacturing industry have formally merged as part of a multi-million refinancing deal.

The restructure of Prestige Park & Leisure Homes and Homeseeker Park & Leisure Homes provides a long-term capital solution that will enable the two businesses to amalgamate.

The major shareholders and senior managers of both businesses have invested into the new company with a £13 million funding injection provided by Praesidian Capital to support growth plans in the rapidly expanding UK leisure market. The merged companies will continue to trade under their separate Prestige and Homeseeker brand names.

Commenting on the transaction, Silvano Geranio, founder shareholder of Prestige Park & Leisure Homes, said: “Prestige and Homeseeker are long-established and high-quality manufacturers supporting both the growing leisure markets and the supply of suitable homes for the ageing population. This investment will help to facilitate and drive our new product development and new market strategy.”

Debbie Foulke, Shareholder and Managing Director of the company, added: “The partnership with Praesidian will allow the two distinct brands to be brought together and will charge the highly experienced
management team with capitalizing on the Company’s future growth potential.”

Matchmakers

Matchmakers

Jane Herbert talks to Mandy Challis, a new breed of park home industry specialist…

Park home success relies on matching people with the right home, in the right park, in the right location. Image courtesy of pantmawrpark.co.uk

Park home success relies on matching people with the right home, in the right park, in the right location. Image courtesy of pantmawrpark.co.uk

Finding the right home can be fraught with difficulties putting moving house regularly at the top of most people’s stress lists.

Solutions that help to smooth the home buying process are just what the park home industry needs. Mandy Challis is at the forefront of a new breed of industry specialists whose job it is to match customers to the perfect park and park home. Last October, fuelled by the growing popularity in park home living and receiving up to 180 enquiries a week from retail customers, the Omar Group appointed Mandy as Retail Sales Manager.

Her brief: to offer the same outstanding customer service experience to potential home owners and retail customers, as already developed in the trade side of the business. Success is not just about matching people to the right home, but also the right park, in the right location. Mandy explains: “My role is to help people find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that’s to find a park in a specific area, to ensure that a park is close to a bus stop or local shops, or to find a pet friendly park for example. “Buying a new home is a huge decision, so first I take the time to understand an individual’s wants and needs and then I match those needs to a park and home.”

PITCH PERFECT

In the first six months of the role, Mandy matched more than 30 couples and individuals to their perfect park and home. “It’s not just about finding the right park or home though, it’s also about being there for people to answer questions, give advice and support them through their journey,” says Mandy. Customers vary considerably in their requirements and the amount and type of information they need. Many are at the very earliest stages of looking into park home ownership and need help unpicking everything from legislation to finance. Mandy also helps customers with their choice and specification of home, ensuring that it fits not only their requirements, but those of the chosen location.

BRICKS AND MORTAR

The possibilities are almost endless. Buying any new home is daunting but making the move from the traditional bricks and mortar property market and leaping into the park home world, especially in later years of life, can be particularly overwhelming.

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Quality Benchmark

Quality Benchmark

The number of homes at Birch’s Parks ranges from 20 plots to over a hundred.

The number of homes at Birch’s Parks ranges from 20 plots to over a hundred.

Jane Herbert meets the team behind Birch’s Park Homes…

When Charles Birch Sr saw the opportunity to expand his caravan sales business into the park homes market in the early 1970s, he would not have foreseen that this was the start of the Birch’s brand we know today.

Now, synonymous with the highest quality homes in some the most desirable locations in England, Birch’s Park Homes are one of the UK’s leading operators in luxury residential developments.

As Chairman of Birch’s Park Homes, Charles Birch Sr has long since handed over the day-to-day operation of the Cambridgeshire-based business to his sons Charles and James Birch. With a growing portfolio of ten parks across Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Hampshire, Somerset, and soon Essex, Birch’s Park Homes are renowned as a luxury operator but as a family-run business, like to keep their feet on the ground. “Our business has grown so much over the years and we are constantly expanding and looking for new opportunities,” explains Managing Director Charles Birch. “It’s not just about growth though. We like to be the best we can be. Attention to detail at every level is an important part of the Birch’s brand. We are continuously working with new products, new landscaping and new ideas to push forward our business and make our next park better than the last.”

CLASS LEADERS

The number of homes in Birch’s parks varies considerably from under 20 select plots to over a hundred in their largest parks, but the emphasis is very much on quality over quantity, regardless of size. Class-leading homes (often designed in partnership with Birch’s themselves) placed amidst careful landscaping to maximise residents’ privacy and security are key to each overall park design.

Bluebell Woods on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Cambridge is typical of a Birch’s development. Opened in 2007, this small, gated estate offers just 16 high-specification homes in a pretty, woodland setting. All Birch’s parks are aimed at retired and semi-retired people with residents generally required to be aged 45+.

Key to the success of many of Birch’s ‘boutique-style’ developments is their stunning locations. Sandbanks, in Clevedon, Bristol, is an exclusive development of just 23 contemporary homes on a private, gated estate. Opened in 2009, the park has been expertly designed to make the most of the spectacular seaside setting, ensuring that every home benefits from magnificent views over the Bristol Channel to the mountains of Wales. Additionally, each home boasts a stylish glass balcony from which to enjoy the incredible views. Indian stone paths wind around the landscaped terraces and lead to private access to the bay below and a lovely coastal walk to the Victorian seaside town of Clevedon, just 13 miles from Bristol.

New to the Birch’s portfolio is another brand new waterside development. The Estuary will be launched in March 2017 and will offer the highest standard of park homes, each offering unrivalled marina views over Hamble, one of England’s finest spots for sailing and watersports. According to Charles, interest in the limited number of homes available is already “at fever pitch.” With prices starting from around £300,000, The Estuary will offer truly luxurious park home living.

View of the patio of one of the homes at The Tides development in Somerset.

View of the patio of one of the homes at The Tides development in Somerset.

PUSHING BOUNDARIES

Pushing the boundaries of the park homes business and its reputation is central to Birch’s vision. “In the past, park home living has sometimes suffered from a poor reputation due to a handful of unscrupulous operators,” says Charles Birch. “Thankfully, the tides are changing. We like to think that our unique brand of parks, our partnerships with quality manufacturers and our emphasis on exclusivity is all helping to change the perception of park living. At Birch’s, we genuinely believe the potential for the park homes sector is limitless and we want to keep Birch’s at the forefront.” Charles says Birch’s aim is to grow their park portfolio so they have a “park in every county in England.” Acquisition is a key part of their future expansion plans. “We’re actively looking to acquire new parks at the moment. Residential parks, caravan or camping sites… We’re keen to get any parks with additional development opportunities on the Birch’s radar,” says Charles. Having outgrown their existing HQ in Waterbeach, Cambridge, Birch’s are also in the process of constructing new offices and looking to expand their team of staff from 20 to considerably more. A new website is currently in development and Charles, James and the team are working on a number of exclusive projects that will ensure Birch’s profile in the park homes business and property world only continues to rise.

Compliance Countdown

Compliance Countdown

Permission must be sought from the customer for each and every purpose for which a business intends to use that data.

Permission must be sought from the customer for each and every purpose for which a business intends to use that data.

Since the 1980s, the rise of the Internet, combined with widespread technological advancements, has led to a massive increase in the amount of data being stored, processed and transmitted between businesses. Essentially, this means that the Data Protection Act is no longer fit for purpose, nor provides adequate protection for people (‘data subjects’).

The corresponding surge in cybercrime and the ever-increasing value of an individual’s personal data for marketing use has led to data protection becoming a major hot topic in the legal and business world. Following four years of high profile negotiations, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Union at the end of April 2016.

TICKING CLOCK

Park owners and operators can really set themselves apart by showing prospective customers how aware they are of the need to protect their information.

Park owners and operators can really set themselves apart by showing prospective customers how aware they are of the need to protect their information.

With a two-year bedding in period, the regulation will automatically become law in all EU member states in May 2018, by which time businesses will need to comply with the new rules.
When it comes into force, the GDPR will supersede both the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995.

The clock is ticking towards May 2018 regardless of the UK’s decision to exit the EU. At the time of writing, the UK has still not given notice under article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union.
This means the GDPR will automatically become UK law before the end of the subsequent two year negotiation period regarding the UK’s EU withdrawal. According to experts, the GDPR is likely to remain in place afterwards, since it also provides a desperately needed and timely improvement on existing data protection law.

“It is critically important that businesses start preparing now for the GDPR as everyone will need to use that lead-in period up to 2018 to properly prepare their business for compliance,” comments Jowanna Conboye, Solicitor specialising in Intellectual Property and Information Technology at Stephens Scown in Cornwall.

“Park owners and operators can really set themselves apart by showing prospective customers how aware they are of the need to protect their information. The advent of the GDPR represents a great opportunity for businesses of all kinds to get their house in order.” “These new rules send out a clear message that every business must take data protection extremely seriously,” says Jowanna. “The data protection rules cover all aspects of data – relating to both customers and employees – and the use that companies make of personal details to build up customer profiles. Privacy and security have become critical issues,” explains Jowanna.

CLEAR RESPONSIBILITIES
“It’s not just your own company’s website and systems that need to be secure – it has to reach along the chain to any partner businesses, such as website hosting companies and payment processors. Companies need to review all of these arrangements and ensure that the contracts they have in place with partner businesses are robust and that responsibilities and liabilities are clear.” Despite the transition period of the next two years, it’s crucial that park owners and operators, and their related businesses, start preparing now for the enhanced legislation to ensure they are not caught short when the rules come into force. Ideally, businesses should conduct a full Data Protection Audit of their processes and systems.

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Family Affair

Multi-million business started from a chance encounter….

Woodlands Estate in Canterbury was the first park home development from Keat Farm Parks.

Woodlands Estate in Canterbury was the first park home development from Keat Farm Parks.

In the 1950s, a chance enquiry by a stranger wishing to store his caravan set off a chain of events that has led to Keat Farm Parks becoming one of South East England’s most successful and long established holiday and residential park groups.

 
Keat Farm in Kent started life as a smallholding and family home for the Kent family who moved there from Hertfordshire in 1954.

 
After struggling to make ends meet as a B&B, Ronald and Muriel Kent took the opportunity to turn their old orchard into an impromptu campsite and, following planning permission, Keat Farm Holiday Park was born. In 1964 the family purchased a near derelict caravan park and turned it into their first park home development, Woodlands, near Canterbury.

 
Today, Woodlands Estate is a thriving development of 90 homes surrounded by a conservation area and offering splendid views across the rolling Kent countryside to the coast.

 
Woodlands is now one of nine Keat Farm Parks in a business worth over £20 million and employing 45 permanent staff throughout Kent. Five residential parks are home to around 600 residents aged 50+ in Canterbury, Herne Bay, Maidstone and Whitstable. A variety of single and double occupancy homes are offered with most fully furnished homes being supplied by Omar and Prestige.

 

NO RISKS

 
Keat Farm may have grown somewhat over the years but for Malcolm Kent, who celebrates 50 years in the business this year, it is still very much a family-run affair just like his parents intended: “I joined the company in 1966. My elder sister was company secretary and my two brothers-in-law both worked here. In 1986 my father died and I took over the control, with my son joining the company in 1999 and my daughter in 2001.”

 

Malcolm attributes business success to ‘never taking uncalculated risks.’ Under his management, the company has grown steadily through the acquisition of other parks in the region and through taking on major holiday home distributorships.

 
Keat Farm’s philosophy has always been to make their customers as happy as possible. “Quality of product and customer care are both paramount to increasing market share,” explains Malcolm. “Customer expectation is so much higher than ever before. It’s a much changed industry since I first joined, but I think we can be proud of the fact that parks have moved with the times and continue to meet customer expectations.” It is this eye on future sustainability that has led to Malcolm making a sideways move from Managing Director to Group Chairman this summer. Malcolm’s son, Ben Kent, moved into the role on August 1st after serving on the board since 2011 with responsibility for sales and marketing.

 

SUPERB WORK

On the move (left to right) are Godfrey Brown, Ben Kent, Paul Taylor and Malcolm Kent.

On the move (left to right) are Godfrey Brown, Ben Kent, Paul Taylor and Malcolm Kent.

“Dad’s aim has always been to ensure that he leaves a legacy and not a burden,” explains Ben. “Moving to the position of Chairman helps manage the transfer of Keat Farm Parks to the next generation and means better security for our investment. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead and building on the superb work from both my Granddad and Dad, not forgetting all of our fantastic team here.” Supporting Ben is newly appointed board director Paul Taylor who joined the company in 2003 in a sales management capacity. Other Directors of the group are Malcolm’s wife Janet, their daughter Justine Beba and son-in-law Wayne Beba.

 
Close family friend and colleague for 30 years Godfrey Brown also retired his directorship this summer. Malcolm pays tribute to the “magnificent support and pivotal role Godfrey played in Keat Farm’s success story.”

 
So what’s next for Keat Farm Parks? Malcolm says they have plans for a small development in the near future but expansion “depends on the political decisions made in Westminster.”
Asked to comment on the challenges facing the park home industry at this time, Malcolm mentions the as yet unknown potential impact of leaving Europe and ongoing issues with the minority of park operators whose poor practices tarnish the industry’s reputation.

 
“There comes a time when a new generation must take the reins but after 50 years, this is still a fantastic industry to work in despite huge changes over the years,” says Malcolm, who was Chairman of the NCC from 1996 till 1998, and more recently completed two years as National Chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association.

Village In A Village

Village In A Village

Cathedral View Park boasts immaculate five star finishes within its gated complex.

Cathedral View Park boasts immaculate five star finishes within its gated complex.

Describing themselves as a village within a village, it is hard to imagine the residents of Witchford’s Cathedral View Park could be any happier. No wonder when you take a glance around the immaculate five star finishes within the gated complex in rural Cambridgeshire.

 

There is an unmistakeable buzz of community spirit amongst residents of the park homes site, many of whom are latterday London evacuees who have moved to the Park to enjoy their retirement. Owned by the Webb family for about 11 years, Cathedral View currently boasts some 20 homes with both plans and the space to increase the community to 34 residences.

 

Part of the Cambridgeshire Parks group, the family enterprise exudes great pride, care and consideration not least in the top quality accommodation provided, as well as the first rate finishing touches.

 

"You won’t see this calibre of home on any other development,” enthuses Matthew Webb, as he shows off the £200k award-winning show home with its own balcony and garage. “It is the Rolls Royce of the park scene.”