Welsh Conservative leader views the comfortable reality of residential park living
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives and AM for South Wales Central, has paid a fact-finding visit to Ham Manor residential park in Llantwit Major, near Barry (07 July).
Here, a community of around 100 high quality park homes in the landscaped grounds of former manor house are owned by people in or near retirement.
Mr Davies made his visit at the invitation of David Curson, the operations director of residential parks group Berkeleyparks which has owned Ham Manor for over 30 years.
With many people now living longer and faced with different retirement options, Mr Curson said he was keen to explain more about residential parks, and the lifestyles they offer.
From around £125,000, Mr Davies heard, customers aged 50-plus can own a modern purpose-built park home in picturesque and well cared-for surroundings at Ham Manor.
Features of the grounds include a Victorian ornamental pond and fountain, many mature specimen trees, and the opportunity for gentle walks from the park along the river Hoddnant.
Mr Davies was shown around one of Ham Manor’s park homes, all of which are detached with spacious modern interiors, high levels of insulation, and private gardens.
He also met with some of the park’s residents, including John Fellows who, with his wife Rosemary, moved to Ham Manor just over 20 years ago as park managers.
The couple had both previously enjoyed many happy motorhome holidays in the area, and had taken the decision to change their careers.
John was a carpentry joiner and Rosemary a senior local authority worker, and they applied to Berkeleyparks to train as park managers with the group.
After induction, the couple took up their posts at Ham Manor and paid around £40,000 for their two-bedroom home which John believes has more than doubled in value over the years.
Rosemary sadly passed away two-and-a-half years ago, but John – now aged 70 – still enjoys working in his managerial role, and has taken up a new hobby of wood turning.
David Curson said that park homes appeal especially to people who are able to sell their bricks-and-mortar house and buy a park property with a nest-egg left over for retirement:
“Parks such as Ham Manor offer a semi-sheltered environment where residents live among people of a similar age and outlook – and which is, above all, affordable,” he said.
“Residents here enjoy a positive community atmosphere, and a sense of neighbourliness which many say is missing from today’s towns and cities.
“Through this, residential parks allow people to maintain their independence for longer – and provide relatives with the assurance that we make their welfare a major priority,” added Mr Curson.
Noting the quality of homes and community spirit at Ham Manor, Mr Davies encouraged all to respond to the Welsh Government’s current consultation seeking evidence to guide decisions for the future of residential parks in Wales.
Mr Davies said: “It was great to visit Ham Manor Park and have the opportunity to speak to speak with residents of the site.
“It was really beneficial to meet some people who love their community, and I am hugely grateful to David for inviting me along.
“There are many park home sites across my region – and over the past few months I have worked closely with a large number of residents on a variety of topical issues.
“Among those is the Welsh Government’s latest consultation on the park homes commission rate – and I’d urge all park home residents and park owners to participate and make their views known,” added Mr Davies.
There is more information about the group and its parks at www.berkeleyparks.co.uk