SIMPLY THE BEST
Willow Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy retirement…
Willow Park in Burnhouse, North Ayrshire proves the point that you don’t have to be big to be beautiful, writes Jane Herbert. This select residential development of just 26 park homes spread over 3 acres of picturesque Scottish countryside was purchased ten years ago by Mr and Mrs James. The couple, originally from Yorkshire, have family connections in the industry but were keen to forge their own path.
At the time, Willow Park was newly developed but only had four residents. Mr and Mrs James spotted the potential and duly invested in their first park. Willow Park Manager and ten-year park resident, Cathy Gillingham, picks up the story. “Right from the beginning, the James’ had the philosophy that if something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing well,” says Cathy.
“When they started the business, they said they wanted to build the best residential park in Scotland. And really, I think they’ve achieved that. “Willow Park is full now and has completely thrived in the time they have owned it. But more importantly, everyone on the park is happy. It’s a lovely, friendly community that we’ve built and the residents – and the owners – really look out for each other.” Willow Park’s location is perfect for the over 50s age group. Situated within the rolling Ayrshire countryside, the site offers glorious 360 open views of the scenic Burnhouse Hills.
The development lies within the tiny village of Burnhouse, just one mile from the larger traditional Scottish village of Dunlop. The park’s enviable location means that residents have the very best of both worlds – peaceful country living, combined with easy access to all the attractions of the sea and nearby cities. “It’s so quiet and rural here, it’s easy to think that you could be in the middle of anywhere,” laughs Cathy, “but the funny thing about Willow Park is that it’s twenty minutes – literally – from everywhere!”
“The park is 20 minutes from the scenic west coast and its beautiful beaches and tourist spots like Prestwick and Troon. Dunlop, which is just a couple of minutes away, has a train station and it takes twenty minutes to travel into Glasgow Central Station. We’re also twenty minutes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport for anyone wanting to travel further afield.” It’s easy to see why Willow Park’s location makes it a truly popular choice for retirees and those who want a better work / life balance as they get closer to retirement.
The James’ also pride themselves on keeping an immaculate park. Residents are responsible for the upkeep of their own private gardens, but communal areas are really well kept by their contracted gardener, and Mrs James, herself, ensures that there are plenty of flower borders and hanging baskets to brighten up the grounds. “All the homes are nicely spaced out,” says Cathy. “No-one overlooks each other, and every home has a private parking space and there’s lots of communal parking too. Each resident is given a remote-control key fob to operate the secure electric entry gates to the park.”
With most plots ranging from 40-50 feet in size, there are some magnificent luxury homes on Willow Park including an Omar Middleton and Manor Park White House that are both currently for sale. The owners are keen, however, that there are homes for all budgets on the park and work with a variety of manufacturers according to customer’s wishes, and also what stock is available to order at the time.
Owing to the park’s popularity, the James’ sought to expand Willow Park into an adjoining field that they own. With residential planning permission still sometimes difficult to acquire, the couple have chosen instead to focus their investment on an adjacent development of an additional 20 homes that will be for holiday use. This is sure to be a big boon for the area, which is as attractive to tourists, as it is for residential home owners. “We’re really excited about the holiday development,” says Cathy.
“The new park – as yet un-named – is also going to be for the 50+ market which means it will perfectly complement Willow Park. The residents have all been involved in the decision-making process about the facilities that will be chosen for the new holiday park. Top of the list at the moment is a bespoke coffee shop and gym space that owners from both parks will be able to access. The plan is to have chairs and tables around a feature duck pond, which will be a lovely place to meet and chat, as well as make some new friends.”
Work on the holiday park next to Willow Park is due to start this year, and it will hopefully open in 2023. The James’ are also developing their second, smaller residential park which is located in Yorkshire. Manor Park, Flockton, which is equidistant between Wakefield and Huddersfield, was acquired two years ago and has 20 homes on site. Owing to the timing at the start of lockdown, the couple haven’t yet been able to start any refurbishment work on the park, but the plan is to replace the older homes with newer models as they become available.
“It takes time to build a community like Willow Park,” says Cathy. “But it’s such a positive place to live. Residential parks are brilliant for my age group. Our park is a really safe and friendly environment. No issues, no crime. “Everyone who lives here, loves it. Willow Park really is the perfect place to relax and enjoy your retirement in Scotland.”