New laws will champion good park operators, MP hears

Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh swapped Parliament for a residential park in his constituency this week (18 July) to hear about the impact of new laws to protect park home residents.

Mr Leigh made his visit to The Elms retirement park in Torksey where 300 park homes are based, and owned by people in or near retirement.

The MP took a tour of the 60-acre park, praised by botanist David Bellamy for its conservation work, in the company of its family owners.

He also met with a number of the park’s residents during a special question-and-answer session.

The Elms was established just over 30 years ago by former farmer John Kinch, now aged 84, who is today assisted in its running by his children Stuart, Ann, Johnny and Tracey Coulson.

Mr Leigh’s visit follows the passing last year of the Mobile Homes Act 2013, designed to give park residents extra safeguards from a small number of “rogue” operators.

The new legislation, Tracey Coulson told the MP, comes at an especially appropriate time as demand for park homes in Lincolnshire is continuing to grow.

It was right, she said, that people should be able to buy such properties with the confidence that they would enjoy long-term peace of mind.

From around £65,000, Mr Leigh heard, couples can own a modern purpose-built home at The Elms, fully equipped with private garden, in well cared-for surroundings.

Ms Coulson said that such homes appeal especially to local people who are able to sell their bricks-and-mortar house and buy a park property with a nest-egg left over for retirement.

“What we are offering is a semi-sheltered environment where residents live among people of a similar age and background – and which is, above all, affordable,” she said.

“There is a positive neighbourly atmosphere on our park which many mature couples say is missing from modern urban living,” added Ms Coulson.

She told Mr Leigh that more than 200,000 people currently live on residential parks across the UK, and that for the vast majority they represent a dream retirement lifestyle.

But Ms Coulson acknowledges that a few park operators do not meet the high professional standards of management and care which is shown by most business owners.

It is their activities which the new laws are intending to stamp out, including the blocking of residences’ property sales, and the failure of some parks to carry out maintenance.

“The vast majority of people buying at The Elms do so because of recommendations from existing residents, and we are very proud of our community,” said Ms Coulson.

“In fact the most common comment we hear from home owners is the regret that they hadn’t made the move earlier!” she added.