PARK HOLIDAYS UK FLEX MUSCLE

PARK HOLIDAYS UK FLEX MUSCLE

PARK HOLIDAYS UK takes its portfolio to 54 locations with the acquisition of Park Leisure.

 

Park Holidays UK has confirmed its acquisition of holiday parks group Park Leisure which owns 11 holiday parks in popular locations in England, Scotland and North Wales. It will bring to 54 the number of parks now operated by Park Holidays UK – and follows the company’s acquisition of nine parks from Bridge Leisure in 2021. The enlarged portfolio, says the group, will provide it with an even stronger national platform from which to serve Britain’s fast-growing domestic holiday market.

Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the coming together of the two well-established groups presented exciting new opportunities in one of tourism’s most dynamic sectors: “Both companies have invested substantially in their parks over recent years and created a range of high-quality holiday products which people clearly enjoy,” he said. “Park Leisure’s 11 parks have all gained top five-star tourist board awards and represent the high-quality standards we have been working towards in recent years.

 

“Whether customers are looking to rent or buy a holiday home, we can now offer a wide geographical spread of parks able to deliver a first-class experience at an affordable cost. “We will continue to invest in all of our parks to ensure that that their facilities and standards of service are maintained to the highest possible levels,” said Mr Clish. “The domestic holiday market continues to gain traction in the post-Brexit and post-pandemic market, and we are continuing to see an ever-increasing demand for UK holidays.

“Quality is the main driver of bookings and holiday home sales, and this union will consolidate some of the finest holiday parks in the UK into one single group,” said Mr Clish. Parks in both groups provide extensive leisure facilities and family entertainment, together with carefully managed landscaped grounds in which holiday lodges and caravans are located. Park Holidays UK was formed over 35 years ago, and its parks today span the length of Britain from Cornwall in the west to Moray in northern Scotland. Park Leisure has operated holidays parks for more than 20 years, and has a presence in Cornwall, Herefordshire, Lancashire, Northumberland, Yorkshire and North Wales.

AWARD-WINNERS

AWARD-WINNERS

We visit Southwaite Green Mill in the Lake District...

EACH OF THE 60 PARK HOMES in-situ has its own private drive and garden

 

The Lake District’s award-winning residential park Southwaite Green Mill Country Park has an interesting backstory. Originally a Corn Mill which ceased production in the 1950s, Southwaite Green Mill was then owned by the Bardgett Family who ran a caravan site in its picturesque grounds on the outskirts of the market town of Penrith. Another local family, the Heaths, who were well-known in the caravan trade having run Lakeland Caravans for several generations, purchased Southwaite Green Mill in 1973. Jill Heath takes up the story: “My husband’s father John used to site and sell caravans in the local area and the Bardgett family was one of his clients,” explains Jill.

 

“After taking ownership of the park, our family continued to operate the site as a caravan holiday park, alongside developing a fish farming business that continued until the early 1990s.” In 1994, the Heaths purchased a plot of land from Lowther Estates that lies behind the original park and decided to develop Southwaite Green Mill as a residential park. “We had noticed that residential parks were starting to become more popular in the southern parts of the UK,” says Jill. “But there didn’t seem to be many developments in the north, so we set upon making our own.” At first, the Heaths thought that their new residential park would attract potential residents from elsewhere in the country who wished to retire in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District.

 

THE HEATH FAMILY work closely with their preferred supplier Stately. Pictured in the foreground, a Stately Carolina Lodge.

 

Southwaite Green Mill is superbly located alongside the scenic River Eamont, just a few minutes’ drive from England’s second largest lake, Ullswater. Instead, Jill explains, they were inundated with enquiries from local residents. “We were really surprised by the amount of local interest. Our aim was to create a nice, village-type environment for the over 50s with private homes and gardens that didn’t require too much upkeep. “We expected people who had perhaps visited the area on holiday to enquire but in the end, many of our residents are people who have lived in the Lakes for a number of years. It makes for a lovely atmosphere here, a real home from home.”

Southwaite Green Mill currently has 60 park homes in-situ. Each of the homes has its own private drive and garden. Most of the plots also have space for a garage subject to local planning. All of the homes have underground piped LPG, metered electric, and mains water services. Great emphasis has been placed on ensuring the residents’ security and peace of mind. The park has electronic entry gates, and its careful landscaping has, in part, led to the park being honoured with the David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award. Such is the success of the park that Jill and John Heath and their family are currently working on the second phase of Southwaite Green Mill, which will comprise an additional 40 homes when completed.

 

FLOWERS IN BLOOM at Southwaite Green Mill.

 

The new ‘Watersedge’ development will be phased in gradually over the next few years. The first row of plots, which offers the added attraction of lovely river views, is the first area under development. “The market is pretty buoyant at the moment and there’s been a lot of interest in the new homes,” says Jill. “Recently we had a unit sold on the park within just two weeks!” Timescales for completion are dependent not only on sales but on manufacturers’ ability to fulfil orders for residential homes.

 

 

Jill says that their close working relationship with preferred supplier Stately has ensured that Southwaite Green Mill is ahead of the game. “The industry has seen order dates being pushed back due to the pandemic,” explains Jill, “but we thought ahead and booked manufacturing slots in advance with Stately which has enabled us to be more responsive to customer orders. We work with a number of different manufacturers according to each home-owners wishes but we have always found Stately in particular to offer great quality building and furniture, as well as excellent after sales.”

 

GREAT EMPHASIS has been placed on ensuring the residents’ security and peace of mind.

 

Jill and John Heath have two sons and two daughters who are all involved in the running of Southwaite Green Mill, as well as its sister park, Hillcroft, in nearby Pooley Bridge. The family acquired Hillcroft Park in 2012 and have developed it into a multi award-winning holiday park, covering over 50 acres of land and including 200+ privately owned luxury lodges and holiday homes, as well as traditional camping pitches, pods, glamping, and two fully-equipped, self-catering cottages and a large house in the heart of the lakeside village.

 

THE NEW WATERSEDGE development will comprise an additional 40 homes and is situated next to the picturesque River Eamont.

 

There’s no doubt that Southwaite Green Mill and Hillcroft Park owe much of their success to having such a superb location in the heart of the Lakes, but personal service has a lot to say for their continued popularity. The fact that Southwaite Green Mill is a family owned and family run park is an added attraction to potential home owners and an asset to residents. Jill and John lived in the old Mill House on site for more than 20 years and like nothing more than stopping by to have a chat with their old neighbours. Such is their commitment to residents that Jill can even be found chipping in and driving their weekly private minibus service into Penrith on Mondays!

 

A WORLD OF HOLIDAY PARK IDEAS

A WORLD OF HOLIDAY PARK IDEAS

THE ELITE DYNAMICS team were focused on holiday park business at the recent WOPLH show.

 

Holiday Park Scene magazine was delighted to be involved with this year’s World of Park & Leisure Homes Show, that took place at Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry, earlier this summer. After a two-year break, due to COVID, holiday park suppliers enthusiastically raised awareness on a range of essential products and services.

They included several options for hot tubs in holiday settings, the chance to speak to the Compass Insurance team and the opportunity to catch up with the latest technology available through Elite Dynamics. An impressive display of about 40 leisure lodges, log cabins and park homes, from some of the leading UK manufacturers, gave visitors plenty of scope to explore an insight into the latest trends on the market.

 

PATHFINDER HOMES was among multiple holiday accommodation exhibitors at the show

 

Offering free parking and free entrance, the WOPLH show will return to Stoneleigh in 2023 – so save the dates of June 8 – for the Trade Preview Day and June 9 – 11th when the show will be open to the public.

World Of Park & Leisure Homes Show
Tel. 01789 491451
www.parkhomeandleisure.co.uk

MILITARY SALUTE UNITING FAMILIES

MILITARY SALUTE UNITING FAMILIES

Park Holidays UK is providing no-cost holiday accommodation to 100 military families every year, helping them to re-adjust to a life together after deployment. The group operates over 40 holiday parks across Britain and has teamed up with the Give Us Time charity to ensure that its holidays are enjoyed by the most deserving. Founded in 2012, by former Army medic Liam Fox MP, the organisation matches donated holiday accommodation with military families in need of rest and rehabilitation.

Coming in for special praise is the quality of the accommodation and facilities on offer, and the friendliness of park staff which plays a big in creating a relaxing atmosphere. “We feel very privileged to be able to play a small part in helping Britain’s dedicated military personnel to re-discover their family bonds,” said Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish. “Making a difference by supporting charities and good causes has long been part of our business culture and goes back over 35 years to when the company was started. “As well as national bodies such as Give Us Time, individual parks also often fundraise for local organisations with park management and staff taking the lead,” said Tony.

IDYLLIC RETIREMENT

IDYLLIC RETIREMENT

Priory Court is a private and separate gated park home village…

 

THE GROUNDS of Priory Park are beautifully landscaped and include a lake.

It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic location in which to relax into retirement than Priory Park - a mixed residential and holiday park - in coastal Suffolk.
Visitors and residents enter the park through automated security gates before venturing into 115 acres of private, south facing parkland, surrounded by rolling pastures and ancient woodland that flows gently down to the water’s edge.
The beautifully landscaped grounds feature immaculate lawns, lily ponds, wildflower meadow, woodland walks and panoramic river views across the River Orwell, a tidal estuary that leads out to the charming seaside town of Felixstowe. The Priory Park estate has been owned and run by the Little family for over 40 years.
“My Father, Peter, purchased Priory Park from Ada Buckingham in June 1981,” explains Priory Park Owner James Little. “Known as Alnesbourne Priory at that time, it enjoyed a mixed reputation and after years of neglect was a far shadow of what you can see today.
Over the past forty years, our family has poured three generations’ efforts into transforming potential into reality and creating the fabulous haven Priory Park is today.”
James and his wife, Lisa, have lived at Priory Park since 1986, first in a Pinelog Virginia and for the past 20 years in the house they built in the grounds. Priory Park has also been home to their two children, Jake and Sophie, who have both worked at the Priory during school holidays in their younger lives.
With Sophie now of to university and Jake continuing to take on more responsibility in the family business that he has worked in for the past five years, the future of Priory Park looks secure for future generations of the Little family.

TIP-TOP STYLE
Ensuring Priory Park is kept in tip-top condition is very much a team effort. James explains that the family is assisted by a team of 15-20 staff depending on the time of year:
“As you can imagine, keeping a 115-acre estate - the buildings, roads, infrastructure, flora and fauna - looking at their best involves a lot of effort from our teams. Thankfully we have great staff, most of whom have been with us for many years, who are all proud to be part of Priory Park.”
Within Priory Park, Priory Court is a private and separate gated park home village for residential use. Catering for the fifty plus age group, with no resident children, Priory Court comprises 100 bespoke bungalow-style homes. South facing and terraced with attractive brick walling, each home has its own private drive and generous landscaped plot.
Priory Court offers the best of both worlds for residents. They enjoy the security of their own private community whilst being part of a larger whole and benefiting from the grounds and facilities of the rest of Priory Park.
Within the grounds of the Park there are tennis courts, a heated outdoor pool, a nine-hole par 31 golf course, a popular Clubhouse bar and restaurant in a building dating back almost 1000 years, numerous woodland trails, and direct access to the shore of the River Orwell.
The homes within Priory Court are complemented by wide drives, grass verges and Victorian style streetlamps. With a wide range of homes, each is positioned at different heights and aspects to create an attractive, unregimented environment.
The variety of homes and the individualised nature of each was a conscious decision as James explains:
“Priory Court has been completely redeveloped over the years and we have sold homes from all of the main park home manufacturers. The redevelopment was all about customer choice which we felt would also make for a more interesting development. On the holiday home side of things, we have tended to work in the same way and have examples of most of the mainstream caravan and lodge manufacturers represented.”

HOLIDAY HOMES
The Little family were pioneers in the UK lodge market in the mid-80s and the holiday home side of the business caters for privately owned caravans and lodges where use is strictly limited to owners and their families. James says that “this enables us to maintain high standards and ensure the Park runs in a particular way.”
He continues: “There are several different holiday home planning consents within the 115 acres. At the moment we have 170 holiday homes in situ including our flagship Friars and original Abbots developments but do have planning for a gradual increase which over time will provide space for a further 125. As we have always tended to see development more as gradual evolution, this should keep Jake busy for the next twenty years!”
Four years ago, the Little family purchased a neighbouring small caravan park business to secure Priory’s boundaries. For now, and notwithstanding the rigours of running a business during Covid times, the focus is on maintenance and upkeep of the existing buildings to ensure all is in good order before starting the gradual redevelopment of Orwell Meadows. In time this will provide 40 new caravan holiday home plots which may well become a further lodge development, subject to planning in the future.
According to James, the Little family run Priory Park “in a low-key fashion without much fanfare.” It’s a very customer-centric business.
“Our aim is to be the best we can, providing a secure and exclusive environment for our customers to enjoy. We try to make the most of what nature has given us with the beautiful setting and treat our customers how we would like to be treated ourselves. Ultimately it is all about the people; without our customers or staff there is no business!”

BEWARE THE SLIPS AND TRIPS

BEWARE THE SLIPS AND TRIPS

All you need to know about holiday park insurance…

 

WINTER IS TRADITIONALLY the time to check if your park and all its assets are properly protected against any eventuality.

 

As a holiday and caravan park owner or manager, the quieter winter season is often used as an opportunity to run annual maintenance checks and undertake refurbishment to interiors and exteriors where needed.
This is also a time when it is important to make sure that your park and all its assets are properly protected against any eventuality.
“Holiday park insurance can help you to identify what your park insurance needs are, and to make certain that these are provided for with a cost-effective policy,” says Dave Moffat, Director of Pib Group Insurance, the company behind the popular Park Protect scheme.
Whilst holiday parks present similar risk to many businesses there are significant differences. Holiday parks rely on the infrastructure on the park in the form of underground pipes and hook ups, access barriers, on site lighting etc and it is important that your insurance policy can cater for this.
“Many holiday parks will also have holiday home hire feet and holiday home stock,” advises Dave. “As such it is important that a parks insurance policy is able to cater for such units and also the debris removal and re-siting costs associated with replacing holiday homes. ”These are just two of many areas to consider when insuring holiday parks and it is important that your needs are professionally assessed.

 

 

REVENUE LOSS
In addition to recouping the actual financial cost of rebuilding or buying new holiday homes and buildings, it makes financial sense to obtain insurance which will provide you with a cover for the loss of revenue or profit incurred following a material loss.
It is important that you seek professional advice in this area to make sure the sum insured and indemnity period are sufficient for your business needs and the period your business could be affected following a serious loss, such as a fire or flood.
Pib offers common sense advice: “Having members of the public stay in your caravans and spend time in your park on a daily basis also exposes you to other financial risks.
“We live in an increasingly compensation-based culture, in which some people are willing to sue for the smallest things. Though some compensation claims may be for fatuous reasons, there are also very real risks within any holiday park that could result in injury or loss.”
One indemnity limit area holiday parks do need to consider is the limit of indemnity under this cover as the levels of very serious losses has increased exponentially in recent years and claims well in excess of £5m are no longer unusual. Crucially the limit of indemnity is set at the time of the incident but the ultimate settlement amount can fluctuate depending on the calculators used for such claims at the time of settlement. It is not possible to buy additional cover after the event and if your limit of indemnity is exhausted you would be responsible for the shortfall.
All businesses with employees are required to have Employers Liability Insurance arrangements, which usually has a £10,000,000 limit of indemnity. As with Public Liability, all Holiday Parks should consider higher limits of indemnity as it is no longer inconceivable that a very serious injury to an employee could exhaust this cover. The cost of arranging such Excess Liability cover is relatively small and should be discussed with a specialist Insurance provider.

 

Each holiday park will have different insurance needs, depending on size and a variety of other factors. A large-scale park with hundreds of caravans will have different policy requirements to that of a smaller family run park.
Insuring more than 200 caravan and holiday parks across the UK, Park Protect provides tailor-made insurance for the specific needs of your business.
Meanwhile, with all the signs pointing towards another bumper year for the industry what do Holiday Parks need to think about in relation to Insurance.
Compass Insurance have consistently raised awareness about the importance of being insured for the right amount, whether that’s parks themselves or their owners and their individual caravans and lodges. As the costs of rebuilding and replacing park buildings and in particular, caravans and lodges increases, this places more emphasis on sums insured being accurate.
For Parks this means making sure that any buildings and infrastructure insured on their policy is accurate and in some cases a valuation or survey is a good idea especially if you haven’t reviewed this for a few years.
Analysis at the end of 2021 showed that the cost of rebuilding and repairing damaged buildings had increased 7.9% in the last 12 months and forecasts show this continuing to increase as shortages of materials and labour continue into 2022. With that in mind we’re introducing a valuation service for parks insured with Compass so they can have the peace of mind that comes with a professional valuation for their sums insured.
For the owners of individual caravans on your park this can have greater significance as the current issues with supply of new and second-hand units means that what a customer insured for in good faith just six months ago may already be less than the cost of replacing that unit in today’s market.

 

 

IN GOOD FAITH
Compass always look at what the customer insured for at the point the policy was taken out or renewed and base our assessment of any claim on that value. In 2022 our policies will also be updated to contain a provision for this growing trend so that customers don’t find themselves underinsured for no fault of their own.
Compass are renowned for our market leading Holiday Caravan and Lodge product but in 2021 they invested time and resource in developing and launching more products that parks and their customers can benefit from.
Its Residential Park Home product underwent a major overhaul including the introduction of two tiers of cover (Essentials and Extra) which enable the customer to tailor it to meet their needs, as well as the addition of Home Emergency and Legal Expenses as optional covers.

 

 

TRAVEL INSURANCE
They have also developed and launched products for owners of Touring Caravans and Motorhomes both of which give market leading levels of cover at very competitive premiums.
Finally, and new for 2022, Compass is excited to be announcing the launch of its travel insurance product for customers who book breaks on Holiday Parks in the UK.
This product has been developed specifically to meet the growing demand for UK holidays and gives the customer a wide range of cover including cancellation, curtailment and emergency assistance and also includes cover for Covid19 related illness or restrictions.

Caravan Guard (Leisuredays)
Tel. 01422 396 693
Email. park-operator@leisuredays.co.uk
www.leisuredays.co.uk

Compass Insurance
Tel. 0344 274 3908
Email. enquiries@compass.co.uk
www.compassparks.co.uk

Pib Group (Park Protect)
Tel. 01422 358 525
Email. hello@pib-insurance.com
www.pib-insurance.com

NEW IDENTITY FOR STUNNING CORNISH PARK

NEW IDENTITY FOR STUNNING CORNISH PARK

A BRAND NEW IDENTITY for the park reflects its gorgeous location near Polperro.

One of Cornwall’s most stunningly situated holiday parks has been re-christened with a new name which celebrates its unique location.
Now known as Polperro Holiday Park, it takes its title from the picture-perfect fishing port of Polperro which neighbours the park on Cornwall’s south east coast.

Owners, Park Holidays UK say the new name will help evoke far better the gorgeous scenery and magical atmosphere which awaits families coming here on holiday. The park was acquired earlier this year by the group and was previously known as Seaview Holiday Village.

The name change will also help avoid possible confusion with Seaview Holiday Park in Whitstable, Kent, which is also operated by Park Holidays UK.
Plans have been announced by the company to invest even further in Polperro Holiday Park’s facilities which include a modern indoor pool and family entertainments venue.

TURNING TIDES

TURNING TIDES

LEEDONS RESIDENTIAL PARK IS THE FLAGSHIP in Allens Caravans residential portfolio.

Planners are favourable to Park Home applications reports Jane Herbert...

Back in the mid-1930’s, when auto trader Bill Allen decided to display touring Allens Caravans on his garage forecourt in Wolverhampton to fill some empty space., He could never have foreseen that Auto Selling Cars would grow into the huge success Allens Caravans is today. But times were changing, and caravan sales took off. Bill’s curiosity was piqued. Just a few years later in the 1950’s, with business growing, Bill moved the company to the historic stately home of Wootton Hall inWarwickshire’s Henley- in-Arden, which is still Allens Caravans headquarters today. Here, he hosted the first-ever Annual Midlands Caravan Exhibition, and its success made Bill realise that he was onto something. In the 1960s he travelled to the USA where he was inspired not just by the trend for caravan holidays, but also by the increasing popularity of Allens Caravans for all-year residential living. Bill returned toWootton Hall convinced of the potential growth for residential caravan parks in the UK, and with caravan sales soon outstripping car sales, Allens Caravans was born. Today, Allens Caravans is one of the country’s leading Park Operators with a portfolio of 13 Holiday and Residential Parks across the Midlands and Wales. The business, which now employs around 160 staff, is still managed by Bill’s grandchildren and other family members, with joint Managing Directors, Joe Folkes and James Allen, heading up the team.

THRIVING BUSINESS
“Allens Caravans has come a long way since its foundation in the 1930’s,” explains Joe Folkes. “But at heart we are still a thriving family business, the owners of which are not just faceless names, but third generation working Directors who can be found at our Head Office or on the Parks looking after the day-to-day running of the company,” he continues. “As a whole team, we ensure the highest possible standards are delivered at our Parks, for the benefit of our customers,” he adds. “We are so proud of the excellent reputation we have built with those customers, and also our colleagues within the caravan industry.” Currently, five of Allens Caravans 13 Parks are residential: Broadway Park with 82 residents and Leedons Residential Park with 129 residents in Worcestershire; Wootton Hall in Warwickshire with 290 residents; Pendeford Hall inWolverhampton with 62 residents; and Overstone Solarium Residential Park with 80 residents in Northamptonshire. Typically, Allens Caravans Parks have all been chosen for their stunning locations in the great British countryside. Residents of both Wootton Hall and Pendeford Hall can enjoy the outstanding surrounding scenery of two former historic country estates. Similarly, Overstone Solarium is set amongst 115 acres of beautiful woodland – the perfect spot to relish in the peace and quiet of retirement.


GAMES ROOM
Both Broadway Park and Leedons Residential Park are situated just ten minutes’ walk from the charming and picturesque village of Broadway in the prime location of the Cotswolds. With a scenic setting nestled beneath the Cotswold escarpment and overlooked by Broadway Tower, the Parks are blessed with plentiful wildlife and both Broadway and Leedons hold the prestigious Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award. Residents at the two sister Parks also benefit from an enviable array of facilities including an indoor swimming pool, a three rink bowling green, tennis court, social hall, launderette and games room. Leedons Residential Park is the newer development of the two, and the flagship in Allens Caravans residential portfolio. Originally acquired in the 1980’s, Leedons has been the focus of considerable expansion over the years and several £million investment both in its infrastructure and leisure facilities. A proportion of the Park is devoted to holiday home ownership (ten months of the year) but the focus is on delivering Residential Park Homes for the over 50s semi-retired and retired. Phase three of the Leedons development has recently been released and work is currently continuing on around 40 plots. Phase four is already in the planning with more luxury homes with exceptional countryside views coming soon. Prospective residents can choose from a variety of manufacturers including Willerby, Omar, Stately, Lissett, Homeseeker/Prestige, Tingdene and Pathfinder. Each home has its own garden area, a shed or greenhouse, and parking for up to two cars adjacent to the property. Pets are welcome on site and amongst the team of eight staff, there are resident Park Managers and Wardens for peace of mind.

Despite Allens Caravans obvious growth, long term expansion for the residential park sector as a whole is still reliant on the vagaries of the planning process. “We are always striving to expand our Park portfolio and there are a couple of Parks in the pipeline for the near future,” explains Joe. “The supply of new, modern sites for Parks is always going to be the biggest hurdle. “Fortunately, the tides are turning, and as local communities, councils and consumers start to see Park Homes (rightly so) on a par with conventional housing, the easier planning applications for Residential Parks will be.” Allens Caravans continued success is also evident in their Holiday Park portfolio. A brand new luxury Holiday Park, Bredon View, opened in Worcestershire on May 1st this year, bringing a five year development plan to fruition. No mean feat considering the tricky trading conditions of the pandemic. “Park Homes, much like every supply chain industry, has been hit by delays due to Covid,” says Joe. “With hundreds of supplies involved in manufacture and construction, this has inevitably resulted in a knock-on effect of price increases and, more significantly, longer waiting times,” Joe points out. “But we continue to invest back into all our Parks, both in terms of facilities and infrastructure.We have a solid history of investment spanning nine decades and this spirit is ingrained into every new generation who take on the stewardship of the Allens Caravans brand.”

Allens Caravans
Tel. 01564 792323
www.allenscaravans.co.uk

 

Residential Park Operator – CALL OF THE WILD

CALL OF THE WILD

WHIPSNADE PARK HOMES is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Dunstable Downs. Photo - ZSL Whipsnade Zoo © ZSL

Unusual neighbours for some Bedfordshire park home residents...

Every park has its own unique attractions for home buyers but those of Whipsnade Park Homes are definitely more exotic than most! This third generation family- run business is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Dunstable Downs just a couple of hundred metres from the UK’s largest zoo and safari park, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. “On a typical day, the sights and sounds of the safari park are never far away,” explains Park Manager Cheryl Sears. “A public footpath runs around part of the perimeter fence and it’s very common to see various species of deer, as well as elephants and camels from there.When the zoo is running its steam train, we can often hear the whistle blow. The occasional hoot, growl or even roar is also part of our daily life here atWhipsnade. It certainly adds to the local colour and is a real novelty for our residents.” Whipsnade Park Homes has been established for over 70 years by the family of the Park Owner Gill Ponsford. Gill’s Grandfather originally started the business to cater to touring visitors when Whipsnade Zoo first opened next door to his farm. In later years the park’s licence was changed permanently to residential use.

OVER FIFTIES
Whipsnade Park has been much improved over the years and now boasts 102 residential homes. All of the homes are connected to mains electricity, water and sewage. Residents make their own arrangements for oil or gas heating. The park is exclusively for the over 50s but there are often families and grandchildren visiting and the park community is a friendly and welcoming one. “Whipsnade is a lovely community full of like-minded people,” says Cheryl. “All of our residents have embraced the benefits of park home living. In downsizing and releasing equity from their previous homes, they are able to still maintain a very high standard of living. Most of the park homes have individual gardens and parking, and some owners also rent garages close to their property. Many homes offer lovely views over local farmland.” Whipsnade Park is well landscaped to reflect its beautiful natural setting in the Bedfordshire countryside. The park is nestled in the stunning Dunstable Downs, part of the Chiltern Hills, where residents enjoy scenic walks, several golf courses and a nearby gliding club. The park is located on the outskirts of the village ofWhipsnade, which contains a beautiful church, a traditional country pub, and a thriving village hall and social club, which in ‘normal times’ attracts the park residents to its many events and activities.

RESIDENTS OF THE PARK enjoy the sights and sounds of Whipsnade Zoo’s residents on a daily basis. Photo - ZSL Whipsnade Zoo © ZSL

TREE CATHEDRAL
The historic Whipsnade Tree Cathedral – trees, hedges and shrubs planted in the form of a medieval cathedral after the First World War - is just ten minutes’ walk from the park. Another National Trust property, the 5000-acre Ashridge Estate and its famous bluebell woods, is also a nearby attraction, popular with residents and their visitors. “Our lovely countryside setting is one of the biggest draws for prospective owners,” explains Gill. “It’s hard to believe that the bustling town of Dunstable is just three miles away. A lot of our residents take advantage of the bus service from the park entrance to nearby Hemel Hempstead, Luton and Dunstable. It’s possible to reach London by train in around 30 minutes. Our park really offers the best of countryside living with access to all amenities.” Whipsnade Park residents benefit from a wealth of high quality home choice. The Park features a selection of homes from leading manufacturers such as Omar, Tingdene, Prestige and Stately-Albion. There is presently a brand new Tingdene Hayden Classic (double bedroom) just about to be released onto the market, and plans are already in development for a further two new homes this year. The park continues to be 95% full, with around 150 residents in full time occupancy throughout the year - a positive outcome considering the challenges of trading in any business during the last 12 months. “We feel very lucky to have weathered the storm of the Pandemic and not been too badly affected,” says Gill. “Inevitably there’s been a bit of a slowing down in the property market. For us, it’s prevented the over 50s from visiting the park to view any potential new homes.We’ve invested more in our website and marketing materials accordingly but there’s no substitute for being able to see the park first- hand.We are now looking forward to welcoming visitors again and showing prospective residents the advantages of joining our lovely community.”

THE NEW TINGDENE HAYDEN CLASSIC which is about to be released onto the market

BRIGHT SIDE
Unexpectedly, the Covid Pandemic has resulted in some more welcome benefits too. Residents ofWhipsnade Park Homes have benefitted from the setting up of a good neighbours’ scheme known locally as SKaW, which covers all those who live in the three surrounding villages of Studham, Kensworth and Whipsnade. The scheme offers lonely and vulnerable people assistance with grocery shopping, medical transport, prescription collection and other necessary activities. “Although the park didn’t set up the scheme, SKaW has been a valuable resource for some of our elderly residents,” shares Cheryl, who herself volunteered as a helper last year. “In many ways, park home living has proved to be the perfect environment for lockdown,” adds Gill. “It offers a ready-made self-contained community with plenty of support.” “It’s heart-warming to see how the community as a whole has been brought a lot closer together as a result of this year’s difficult events. It just goes to show that positive things can come out of even the hardest circumstances. As the situation improves nationally, at Whipsnade Park Homes we will be continuing to support our residents, whilst keeping those stronger community ties and values close to home.”

Whipsnade Park Homes
Tel. 01582 873 119
www.whipsnadeparkhomes.co.uk

THE BUSINESS WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED as a touring park for visitors to Whipsnade Zoo which is next door.

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York House Leisure expands into the residential park sector...

With a solid background in owning and operating award-winning holiday parks in picturesque North Yorkshire, it was just a matter of time before York House Leisure expanded into the residential park sector. Now, this family-run business is launching its most ambitious development so far –Gateforth Park -- a large, luxury park home community on a 45-acre site, just minutes from the popular market town of Selby in the Vale of York. “My family had been looking for the right ‘blank canvas’ for many years,” reveals York House Leisure Co-Director, Phil Brierley. “York House Leisure was established in 1965 as a holiday park business, but we’ve grown naturally over the years into the residential market. “We were keen to further expand and offer something different when, four years ago, a chance meeting led to our discovery of the site at Gateforth.”

VANDALISED SITE

Phil says that looking at Gateforth Park today, with Phase One of its luxury development well underway, it’s hard to believe that this former mushroom farm site had stood derelict for a decade and was a regular target for vandalism, arson and fly tipping. Fortunately, York House Leisure Directors Phil and his brother Tim had the industry experience to see past Gateforth’s appearance as a dilapidated brownfield site and recognise its potential. York House Leisure purchased the site in August 2018 and drew up plans for a three phase re-development that would completely transform the neglected 45-acre site into a spacious park home development of 168 well-appointed homes. “We felt that Gateforth Park could be transformed into something really special,” says Phil. “Our vision from the start was to develop the highest quality residential park that offered the very best in over 50s living. And with planning permission awarded unanimously by the local District Council in January 2019, the hard work really began!” The development at Gateforth is situated next door to Selby Golf Club and makes the most of its attractive countryside surroundings, as well as excellent road and rail links to some of the area’s top leisure destinations. When complete, the park will include a fishing lake, community centre, woodland and recreational areas. The lake will be surrounded by homes, giving relaxing views of the water and the wildlife. York House Leisure’s four holiday parks – York House, Old Hall, Swaleside and Abbot’s Green – already hold David Bellamy Gold Awards for conservation, and the plan is to develop a similar scheme at Gateforth Park.

CUTTING TEETH

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, in front of the new Majestic 42x20 at Gateforth Park - Phil Brierley of York House Leisure, Silvano Geranio & Andrew Westwood of Prestige Homeseeker, and Dawn Hughes of Gateforth Park.

The York House Leisure team cut their residential park teeth on Quarry Moor and New Park, a 92 plot, traditional style park that has been in the family since the early 1980s. The park is popular with over 50s wishing to downsize within a small, friendly community that offers easy access to the area’s considerable attractions. The two side-by-side developments are situated on the outskirts of the historic cathedral city of Ripon, home to the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens, and a short drive from Harrogate and further afield, York. Quarry Moor and New Park is typical of the York House Leisure Park ethos. Phil says that they “aim to offer immaculately maintained parks, which offer quiet, private space with all the benefits of a real community.” “It might be traditional in style, but this park has been carefully developed over many years and is now filled with greenery and wildlife throughout the year,” explains Phil. “Each plot is set back from the main driveway, giving residents additional space and privacy that is a key selling point for re-sale of the homes there.” With a portfolio of successful parks, the York House Leisure team of 20 (35 in peak season) are happiest when looking after their customers, the majority of which are holiday home owners.

Flagship holiday park, York House, has won a raft of accolades including a Visit Britain 5 Star Award for Tourism, Hoseasons Diamond Finalist Award for Customer Service, and it was selected as a Finalist in the White Rose Awards 2019. With a bit of luck – and customary hard work – Gateforth Park will attract similar success. Fifty park home bases and eight show homes from Prestige Homeseeker Park and Leisure Homes are now in position at Gateforth as part of Phase One of the development. Already, the park has 10 reservations, which has exceeded expectations at this early stage, especially considering the challenges of operating over recent months. “What a difference a year makes!” says Phil, smiling. “We didn’t start redeveloping Gateforth until last August and we recycled many thousands of tonnes of concrete and demolished several huge industrial buildings on site. Not to mention the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic! But, all credit to our team, we are well on track with Phase One of the park and we couldn’t be more excited to start welcoming our first residents to Gateforth later this year.”