Practising What They Preach

Practising What They Preach

Practising What They Preach main picIt’s hard to imagine a more perfect, unspoilt location to spend your retirement years than Pant Mawr Residential Park; nestled in a secluded, wooded valley above the pretty town of Harlech, amongst the stunning scenery and wildlife of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. A select development of just 29 homes for the over 50s, retired and semi-retired, Pant Mawr started life in 1955 as a caravan park. Acquired by Neil Collis and his family in 2004, the park achieved a change of licence, two years later, to become a residential park. Since then, under Neil’s careful ownership and management, Pant Mawr has won numerous awards including Park of the Year in 2013. “My aim for Pant Mawr has always been to operate a park that I would be happy for my family to live on,” says Neil. “In fact I do! I live at the entrance to the park and actively run it myself, only employing one part time gardener and occasional construction contractors. Residents become friends here and we all feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.” Pant Mawr is in the final stages of development and there is just one plot still to be sold. The residents of the current 28 homes enjoy truly spectacular views of the Rhinog mountain range, the golden sands of Tremadog Bay and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Harlech Castle. The prestigious Royal St David’s Golf Club is just minutes away. Neil has made every effort to ensure that the park and its homes harmonise with the exceptional surroundings. Traditional dry-stone walls constructed by local craftsmen add character and, the landscaping complements the natural beauty of the Park’s woodland setting. “Pant Mawr means ‘Great Hollow’ in English,” explains Neil, “but the park is much more peaceful than its name might suggest. Residents can relax in a very private and secure location, surrounded by mature trees and fields, along with all kinds of wildlife. Living in Pant Mawr really does represent a special opportunity to live life to the full in a unique place.” However, running a park, regardless of its enviable location, still brings its challenges. “In 2014, the Welsh Government introduced its own Mobile Homes Act, which is quite different from the one in England,” says Neil. “Some of the legislation is proving particularly challenging to park operators and certain parts are subject to a current judicial review in the High Court.”


Practising What They Preach pic 4The main differences between the park legislation in England and Wales is that in Wales, the park fee can only increase by the much lower rate of CPI, instead of RPI in England. A manager or owner of a Welsh park has to pass a fi t and proper person test and park licenses have to be renewed every five years, which means much closer monitoring by the Local Authority that issues the license. This is great news for residents and undoubtedly helps to protect them from unscrupulous park owners but such rigorous rules can cause extra administrative headaches for upstanding members of the industry. Following a public consultation on the park homes commission rate, currently 10%, the Welsh Government recommended a phased reduction in the rate and has commissioned further financial analysis to determine how to action this change. The result is likely to mean higher park fees. With just one plot on the site remaining, any changes are unlikely to impact too forcefully on Pant Mawr. The buyer of the final plot is able to design their own home. All of the homes on the park are different models from Omar, ranging in size from 40 x 20 to 45 x 20 feet. Each home benefits from mains water and drainage, LPG central heating, an individual block-paved driveway and turfed garden with shed, as well as telephone and satellite TV connection. “We try to take care of everything for our residents so their move here is as relaxed as possible,” says Neil. “Attention to detail makes all the difference in providing them with comfort and peace of mind.”


Practising What They Preach pic 5Neil and the residents of Pant Mawr also like to give back to the wider community. The park enjoys close links with the small town of Harlech and its many amenities and independent shops, just a few minutes walk away. The local swimming pool is community-owned and receives great financial support, as well as volunteer staff, from Pant Mawr. The Welsh Air Ambulance is also well supported by the park and its residents. With Pant Mawr almost complete, Neil is content to spend his days looking after the residents and ensuring their continued enjoyment of the exceptional surroundings. “There are no plans at the moment to expand the park or invest elsewhere,” says Neil. “Pant Mawr is a little slice of heaven in North Wales… I can’t imagine ever wanting to be anywhere else.”