Planners are favourable to Park Home applications reports Jane Herbert...
Back in the mid-1930’s, when auto trader Bill Allen decided to display touring Allens Caravans on his garage forecourt in Wolverhampton to fill some empty space., He could never have foreseen that Auto Selling Cars would grow into the huge success Allens Caravans is today. But times were changing, and caravan sales took off. Bill’s curiosity was piqued. Just a few years later in the 1950’s, with business growing, Bill moved the company to the historic stately home of Wootton Hall inWarwickshire’s Henley- in-Arden, which is still Allens Caravans headquarters today. Here, he hosted the first-ever Annual Midlands Caravan Exhibition, and its success made Bill realise that he was onto something. In the 1960s he travelled to the USA where he was inspired not just by the trend for caravan holidays, but also by the increasing popularity of Allens Caravans for all-year residential living. Bill returned toWootton Hall convinced of the potential growth for residential caravan parks in the UK, and with caravan sales soon outstripping car sales, Allens Caravans was born. Today, Allens Caravans is one of the country’s leading Park Operators with a portfolio of 13 Holiday and Residential Parks across the Midlands and Wales. The business, which now employs around 160 staff, is still managed by Bill’s grandchildren and other family members, with joint Managing Directors, Joe Folkes and James Allen, heading up the team.
“Allens Caravans has come a long way since its foundation in the 1930’s,” explains Joe Folkes. “But at heart we are still a thriving family business, the owners of which are not just faceless names, but third generation working Directors who can be found at our Head Office or on the Parks looking after the day-to-day running of the company,” he continues. “As a whole team, we ensure the highest possible standards are delivered at our Parks, for the benefit of our customers,” he adds. “We are so proud of the excellent reputation we have built with those customers, and also our colleagues within the caravan industry.” Currently, five of Allens Caravans 13 Parks are residential: Broadway Park with 82 residents and Leedons Residential Park with 129 residents in Worcestershire; Wootton Hall in Warwickshire with 290 residents; Pendeford Hall inWolverhampton with 62 residents; and Overstone Solarium Residential Park with 80 residents in Northamptonshire. Typically, Allens Caravans Parks have all been chosen for their stunning locations in the great British countryside. Residents of both Wootton Hall and Pendeford Hall can enjoy the outstanding surrounding scenery of two former historic country estates. Similarly, Overstone Solarium is set amongst 115 acres of beautiful woodland – the perfect spot to relish in the peace and quiet of retirement.
Both Broadway Park and Leedons Residential Park are situated just ten minutes’ walk from the charming and picturesque village of Broadway in the prime location of the Cotswolds. With a scenic setting nestled beneath the Cotswold escarpment and overlooked by Broadway Tower, the Parks are blessed with plentiful wildlife and both Broadway and Leedons hold the prestigious Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award. Residents at the two sister Parks also benefit from an enviable array of facilities including an indoor swimming pool, a three rink bowling green, tennis court, social hall, launderette and games room. Leedons Residential Park is the newer development of the two, and the flagship in Allens Caravans residential portfolio. Originally acquired in the 1980’s, Leedons has been the focus of considerable expansion over the years and several £million investment both in its infrastructure and leisure facilities. A proportion of the Park is devoted to holiday home ownership (ten months of the year) but the focus is on delivering Residential Park Homes for the over 50s semi-retired and retired. Phase three of the Leedons development has recently been released and work is currently continuing on around 40 plots. Phase four is already in the planning with more luxury homes with exceptional countryside views coming soon. Prospective residents can choose from a variety of manufacturers including Willerby, Omar, Stately, Lissett, Homeseeker/Prestige, Tingdene and Pathfinder. Each home has its own garden area, a shed or greenhouse, and parking for up to two cars adjacent to the property. Pets are welcome on site and amongst the team of eight staff, there are resident Park Managers and Wardens for peace of mind.
Despite Allens Caravans obvious growth, long term expansion for the residential park sector as a whole is still reliant on the vagaries of the planning process. “We are always striving to expand our Park portfolio and there are a couple of Parks in the pipeline for the near future,” explains Joe. “The supply of new, modern sites for Parks is always going to be the biggest hurdle. “Fortunately, the tides are turning, and as local communities, councils and consumers start to see Park Homes (rightly so) on a par with conventional housing, the easier planning applications for Residential Parks will be.” Allens Caravans continued success is also evident in their Holiday Park portfolio. A brand new luxury Holiday Park, Bredon View, opened in Worcestershire on May 1st this year, bringing a five year development plan to fruition. No mean feat considering the tricky trading conditions of the pandemic. “Park Homes, much like every supply chain industry, has been hit by delays due to Covid,” says Joe. “With hundreds of supplies involved in manufacture and construction, this has inevitably resulted in a knock-on effect of price increases and, more significantly, longer waiting times,” Joe points out. “But we continue to invest back into all our Parks, both in terms of facilities and infrastructure.We have a solid history of investment spanning nine decades and this spirit is ingrained into every new generation who take on the stewardship of the Allens Caravans brand.”
Tel. 01564 792323