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.

Macmillan Cancer Support Boost

Macmillan Cancer Support Boost

Macmillan Cancer Support Boost main picA charity gala dinner held at Beaulieu during the annual Holiday Caravan and Park Home Show in September raised a remarkable £22,246 for MacMillan Cancer Support. An initiative by three of the manufacturers at the show – ABI UK, Carnaby Caravans and the Swift Group – the event was supported by four of the other manufacturers – Atlas Leisure Homes, Pathfinder Homes, Prestige Homeseeker Park & Leisure Homes and Stately Albion. The 300 guests, who came mainly from holiday and residential parks across the south of England, enjoyed a drinks reception in the worldfamous National Motor Museum before for a sumptuous three-course meal, during which they were entertained by performances from three outstanding magicians. The evening concluded with a hugely entertaining presentation by the brilliant ventriloquist, Nina Conti. Macmillan Cancer Support described the donation as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and said it would all be used to help people living with cancer and their families to receive Macmillan Cancer Support Boost pic 2essential medical, practical and emotional support. For example, it requires £21,510 to fund a Macmillan nurse for nine months. Meanwhile, Hendra Holiday Park, in Newquay Cornwall, handed over £13,398 to Macmillan Cancer Support, the proceeds from fundraising at the Park throughout the year. Janine Hyatt, Director, said: “We chose MacMillan as we want to help them continue their very important work of supporting people through cancer. This is the largest amount we have raised and is certainly the result of the hard work of Hendra team members. Our guests opted into making a donation with their accommodation booking, took part in fundraising activities and dropped cash into charity tins on the park, and we are grateful for their support.” Emma Wright, Senior Fundraising Manager: ““We would like to say a huge thank you to Hendra Holiday Park and all of their guests for raising such an amazing amount of money for Macmillan Cancer Support. “We want to help everyone with cancer find their best way through, from the moment of diagnosis, so they’re able to live life as fully as they can. That’s why this money is so vital to us and will make a real difference to those trying to find their best way through cancer with Macmillan’s support.”

 

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.”

 

Diary Dates

Diary Dates

The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show returns to Stoneleigh Park from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June.

The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show returns to Stoneleigh Park from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June.

The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show returns to Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire this summer and will once again showcase the latest designs from some of the UK’s leading lodge and park home manufacturers. Taking place from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June and with a special trade preview day on Thursday 8th, The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show will have over 50 lodges on display, plus a vast array of other products and services for the park home sector.

Manufacturers confirmed for the 2017 edition include Pathfinder, Manor, Oakgrove, Prestige & Homeseeker, Lodgikol, Pemberton, Tingdene, Sovereign, Stately-Albion, and Phoenix Lodges. A number of both residential and holiday parks will also be represented at the show such as Darwin Holiday & Leisure Resorts, Lakeland Leisure Estates, Berkeley Parks, Haulfryn Group, Kerdene, John Roman Homes, Kelling Heath Holiday Park, Laird Estates Group and Birch’s Park Homes. As always, entry to the show is free and there is free parking on site. The show opens daily at 10am and dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads at all times.

For more information visit www.parkhomeandleisure.co.uk.

Stoneleigh Show Is First For Lodges

Stoneleigh Show Is First For Lodges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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