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.”

 

 

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.

 

Parks Poised

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

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

Parks Poised

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

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

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

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

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

PERFECT SOLUTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUCKING THE RETIREMENT TREND

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

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

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

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

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

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