Royal Roots

Royal Roots - Warfield Park

royal roots main picAscot, Sunninghill, Wentworth… this leafy corner of Berkshire boasts some of the most picturesque countryside and expensive real estate in Britain but it is also home to one of the longest established park home estates in the country, Warfield Park. Few people today, wandering through Warfield Park’s scenic rural parkland dotted with modern park homes, could imagine the colourful history of the park on the outskirts of Bracknell. First established in Tudor times, the land was formerly part of Windsor Great Park, welcoming Kings, Queens and illustrious figures from history over the centuries. The estate was sold to Archie MacLaren in 1939, and his son, Captain Ian MacLaren, subsequently set up Warfield as a residential caravan site in 1947. Today, Warfield Park is overseen by the MacLaren Trust and has evolved into one of the most desirable residential parks in the UK. The 92 acres of wooded parkland now feature 509 park homes on spacious plots that harmonise with the spectacular surroundings, with the majestic Wellingtonia trees planted by forroyal roots pic 3mer owner Lord Ormathwaite’s wife, Lady Jane Walsh, still in situ from the late 19th century. “Warfield Park’s philosophy has always been to site high quality homes sympathetically within the natural surroundings, and to preserve the environment for years to come,” explains Nikki Collas, Development and Projects Coordinator for Warfield Park. “We don’t believe in cramming in row after row of homes, and instead site them in a sylvan and non-linear fashion around winding roads and our magnificent trees.” 434 of the homes at Warfield Park are privately owned but according to Nikki, no two homes look the same because of the unique way the plots are sited on the park and the fact that new residents are encouraged to design bespoke homes. The team at Warfield work with a number of different manufacturers including Lissett Homes, Aspire Leisure & Park Homes, Prestige and Homeseeker, and Tingdene. Nikki says: “We are known for our plot sizes being significantly larger and more private than most other park home estates.

Most homes have gardens and garages. We also landscape the new gardens so they look nice before residents move in, and to keep with our theme of preserving the natural environment.” Apart from its history and setting, one of the most interesting features of Warfield Park is that its remaining 75 homes are rental properties, offered on 6 month Assured Shorthold Tenancies. Not surprisingly, in a location that can offer residents a short commute to London, demand for these rental homes is high. Many homes also attract families as this is one of the few parks to offer no lower age limit on ownership / rental and where children (and up to three well-behaved pets!) are also welcome. “Warfield Park invest heavily in our rental properties and the vast majority of our homes are new or fully refurbished,” explains Nikki. “This prolongs the life of our homes, improves comfort, and reduces energy prices for the tenants. We are proud that we do not have a boiler older than 5 years old in any of our rental properties, many ofwhich also have improved thermal insulation and a multi-layer render coating or low maintenance wall covering (Canexel cladding), which complies with British Standard 3632.” Warfield Park has won many accolades including the Social Responsibility Award in the National Energy Efficiency and Healthy Homes Awards in 2017. Homes are covered under GoldShield warranties and the park is a member of the BH&HPA.

Home to approximately 900 residents, Warfield Park is a thriving, multi-generational community with its own Community Hall, Hairdressers, Beauty Salon aroyal roots pic 8nd coin-operated Launderette. An active Community Association host a number of social, music and fitness classes in the hall daily, as well as regular weekend socials. A team of 18 staff is employed on site: 10 are office based and eight take responsibility for the extensive grounds outside. Warfield Park management and staff, led by Managing Director Barry Sumner, are committed to ensuring the park runs in tip-top condition and that the residents are happy in their homes. “We feel very strongly that it is important to have an open dialogue with our residents so they can voice ideas for improvements or amendments to the way we work,” says Nikki. “We hold bi-monthly Park Assembly meetings in the Community Hall to find out what the residents think we do well and what we can improve upon.” In 2018, Warfield Park saw a huge number of developments including electrical improvement works, several new homes, extended visitor parking, a redecoration of the Community Hall, and the laying of 7.6km of pipework for the supply of mains natural gas, which was completed just in time for Christmas 2018.

In collaboration with Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS) and T & K Gallagher the new infrastructure was undertaken at zero cost to residents and should mean significantly less costs for them once the roll-out of boiler conversion carried out by Happy Energy is finished this Spring. Warfield Park has also recently undergone a complete re-brand with an attractive new logo and company website to appeal to potential new clients on the horizon. The team were delighted to finally receive planning permission in September 2017 for an extension that will mean 82 new homes. “Everyone at Warfield Park is very excited about the expansion,” says Nikki, “and we will be spending time working through more detailed plans during this year. We really want to replicate the character of the existing park in the new extension and preserving our heritage and outdoor space will continue to be top priority as we take Warfield Park into the future.”

 

 

A Going Concern

A Going Concern

a going concern 1

ABOVE: Red Deer Village at Stepps is only one of a handful of residential parks for the over 50s throughout Scotland.

Returning north of the border after many years living in southern England and abroad, brothers John and Ivan Hendry were surprised to find that Scotland’s park owners had not embraced the trend for luxury residential park living they had seen elsewhere. Red Deer Village at Stepps, on the doorstep of Glasgow, is still only one of a handful of retirement villages for the over 50’s throughout Scotland – and is the only one in North Lanarkshire. The Hendry family have owned the land since 2004 when they first purchased Red Deer Village Holiday Park as a going concern. Spotting a gap in the market fi ve years ago, the family vowed to introduce high quality residential homes to the A Going Concern 3region. Today, Red Deer Village is home to over 80 residents across 57 park homes on a beautifully landscaped site adjacent to the fi ve star rated holiday park. New homes are currently selling from a third phase of 30 park homes, and the park will eventually featurea total of 187 homes spread across five development phases. After five years of operation, John Hendry says he is surprised not to have seen more of this type of development in Scotland by now. “Whilst it’s very special to be only one of a handful of residential villages offering this concept, we would like to see an expansion of this sector in Scotland. We’re not scared of competition! It would be a good thing, as we are confi dent that our product is the very best it can be.” The Hendry brothers manage the park with the help of 14 staff, their children and sister Ashleigh, who is responsible for designing the interiors of all the luxury park homes at Red Deer Village.

RAISING AWARENESS

A Going Concern 6

ABOVE: In September 2018, the Scottish park celebrated the first anniversary of its bespoke community hub, built by Pathfinder Homes.

The homes in the park are sourced from leading supplier Stately Albion, and finished with unique touches by interior designer Ashleigh that reflect the park’s Scottish heritage. According to the team, a particular challenge is raising awareness that purchasing a home in a residential park like Red Deer is an attractive financial solution for downsizing in your 50s, rather than just a housing option for very elderly people. A strong sense of community shared amongst like-minded people is one of the key benefi ts of park home living and Red Deer Village is a prime example of a park that really does put its residential community at its heart. In September 2018, the Scottish park celebrated the fi rst anniversary of its custom-built community hub, a £450k building created by Pathfi nder Homes, and the fi rst of its kind in the UK.

MEETING HUB

A Going Concern 4

ABOVE: The homes int he park are sourced from leading supplier Stately Albion. Pictured Stately Albion Kensington.

“The hub has become the focus of the park,” says John Hendry. “We have left what goes on here in terms of entertainment and socialising entirely up to the residents – it’s their space, and I think they have done a great job!” The hub is a completely bespoke building with a comfortable interior and outside decked area. Inside, there is a cosy fire, sofas, coffee area, luxury soft furnishings, toilets, and several individual rooms and offi ces. The hub is the meeting point for a wide range of resident groups and activities each week, and local MSP Fulton MacGregor even holds a regular surgery here. “We had an office type building here before but it was nothing like the hub,” says John. “This really is a luxurious, state of the art facility, and we feel it’s a real asset to the park overall.” According to John, as well as being justifiably popular with residents, the hub is also proving to make sound financial sense. “Close to half a million pounds was a signifi cant investment for our business and the hub took almost two years to come to fruition. However, since it’s launch, there is a marked increase in business, with more residents downsizing to a new lifestyle on our park.”

A Going Concern 9

ABOVE: Red Deer Village takes its eco-credentials seriously and the park has won numerous Silver BH&HPA David Bellamy Conservation Awards, and has achieved Gold for the last three years.

WIDER COMMUNITY
Giving back to the wider community is also central to life at Red Deer Village. Supported by the Hendry family, the park residents have raised many hundreds of pounds for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, with coffee mornings, sponsored activities and their Christmas Light Switch On Extravaganza. The park also takes its responsibility for their smallest residents seriously too. Over time, Red Deer Village has picked up numerous Silver BH&HPA David Bellamy Conservation Awards and has achieved Gold for the last three years. The park has a full time team of in-house gardeners who plant honey bee friendly plants and native British trees, as well as incorporating many wild hedgerow areas into its landscaping. There are two rainwater ponds on the park, which are chemical free and home to numerous toads, frogs, newts, dragonfl ies, birds, and fish. The park has even created a fox den in the waste stone yard. Ivan Hendry says: “David Bellamy believes you can live or holiday at a park which is both attractive to look at and which contributes towards bio diversity. Our conservation projects help to maintain that all-important habitat, and minimise any threat to the natural world through sustainable and eco-friendly development.”

 

Warfield Go Green

Warfield Go Green

ABOVE: Warfi eld Park has been named the National Social Responsibility Company of the Year.

ABOVE: Warfield Park has been named the National Social Responsibility Company of the Year.

A residential park in Berkshire has hit the mark at the National Energy Efficiency and Healthy Homes Awards 2017. Warfield Park in Bracknell claimed the title of National Social Responsibility Company of the Year. The award recognises the ambitious upgrade programme to improve energy efficiency and performance of park homes at Warfield which recently marked its 70th anniversary. Energy efficiency measures have been installed in 29 rental park homes under a government initiative, and the park has assisted 49 private residents to do the same during 2016. Apart from improving living conditions for residents, projected energy savings are anticipated to be in the region of £500 per year per home. The works on the 90-acre park were carried out by two companies: Omar Skinner and Sons and Insulated Homes Limited, the latter nominating Warfield Park for the award.

 

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.

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.”

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Welcome Home image 1

All new homes on the Turners Parks Group sites are sold with a fully landscaped plot, shed and the majority also have block paved or tarmac driveway.

With 38 residential parks in attractive locations across the country, Turners Parks Group is one of the largest park home providers in the UK.

Founded in 2009, the Group has grown steadily and now owns parks from North Yorkshire to the Cornish Coast with a high concentration of 18 parks in the Heart of England in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds. The latest addition is Bittaford Word in Ivybridge, which has given the group a much needed presence in Devon.

“Our parks are for either the over 45’s or over 50’s age group depending on location. We try to appeal to a range of tastes and budgets by working with five of the main park home manufacturers and offering a variety of park home styles,” explains Rebecca Peachey of Turners Parks Group.

Fully Landscaped

“Where possible we also offer a mix of single and twin units as we appreciate a single person looking to move to our parks may want a smaller home.”

Across its 38 parks, Turners has 2,500 plots housing approximately 3,700 residents. All new homes on the Turners Parks Group sites are sold with a fully landscaped plot, shed, and the majority also have a block paved or tarmac driveway. Many of the homes are fully furnished down to the bed linen which means the residents can literally move straight in. Including part time on-site wardens who maintain the communal areas on the parks, Turners has 44 employees.

Turners Parks Group management team, accounts, and customer services departments are located in Newmarket, Suffolk, with regional area managers based around the UK.

Turners Parks Group

The management team, accounts, and customer services departments are located in Newmarket, Suffolk, with regional area managers based around the UK who are responsible for looking after each park. A dedicated aftersales coordinator forms the important link between resident and manufacturer and is also part of the package offered to all new residents.

Commenting on the challenges that are currently facing the park home industry, Rebecca reveals that unscrupulous park operators are the biggest issue: “The tighter regulations and powers given to Local Authorities are helping to weed out those that do not operate in the interests of their residents but sadly on occasions the press attention park homes receive due to a minority of operators can be detrimental to the industry.”

Flagship Park

Takeley Park near to Stansted Airport is Turners Parks Group’s flagship park. The parks warm and welcoming atmosphere is partly due to the very active Resident’s Association and the number of events they coordinate alongside the park manager Rebecca explains: “Takeley Park has recently been awarded Bronze David Bellamy Conservation Award due to the environmental work we have been trialling on the park – for example the introduction of bat boxes, bee hotels, wild flower planting and recycling schemes. We are aiming for a Silver award in 2016!”Welcome Home image 2

The next phase of development at Takeley Park is currently underway with a small cul-de-sac of eight plots. The group is also working on plans for Twinbrook Park in Falmouth - a former holiday park - which will see the whole park developed for residential homes, with work likely to start in the summer.
Turners will also be focussing heavily on improved customer service following a programme of research conducted last year. The group will aim to offer its residents a greater level of service when it comes to reporting any issues they may find in their home or park and have this month launched a new CRM system built with this in mind.
Turners Parks Group
Tel. 01638 722232
www.turnersparksgroup.com

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