Can Residential Holiday Parks Become Retirement Villages?
Not long ago I was on a fact-finding trip with one of our leisure sector Clients, looking at a touring site we’d designed in North Wales. On the day of the trip there had been a news headline about the dire housing shortage in the country, followed by another headline about loneliness becoming an acute issue for older people.
On our trip back to the North West my Client, the owner of a residential park, mentioned he had recently moved an elderly relative onto his park. This relative had been living on their own in a house and was lonely.
They were now living on a park in a modern unit, which was well insulated, cheap to run, and easy to navigate around and maintain. The park was secure with a barrier and CCTV at the entrance, there was warden coverage for normal working hours, and there was a ‘hub’ with organised events and a coffee shop facility.
It sounded as though there was a really positive community spirit on the site. Naturally, my Client reported that their relative was enjoying life in their new home and had settled in really well. That conversation started my thinking – could holiday parks assist with the current housing shortage?
The term ‘residential park’ is all encompassing and covers a huge range of units. The phrase is much maligned and has suffered bad publicity over the years, but residential parks have lots of positives to shout about.
HPA works regularly with members of the BH & HPA, who represent the interests of site owners across the UK. By being a member, the site operators agree to run their sites in a professional manner, with emphasis on providing quality service. By their very nature, sites run by BH & HPA members are amongst the best in the country.
At the heart of a good residential park is the benefit of community. This can be nurtured through good design, to create a good environment. Simple measures such as making the spacing of the units just that little bit wider, providing additional landscaping, creating vistas, and aligning the units in clusters, rather than in a regular grid can make a considerable difference to the overall space.
ENERGY EFFICIENT & SAFE
These design moves can also help nurture the sense of community onsite. The clusters can create micro-communities, external meeting spaces can be integrated into the landscaping, and communal facilities can provide a focus for the social activities.
Good residential park design will not only improve the quality of the site for the residents, but it can also benefit owners and operators by increasing the saleability and value of individual pitches. The best static units are incredibly energy efficient and, in some cases, have similar thermal values to new houses. A compact well insulated space will undoubtedly lead to low heating requirements and highly economic running costs, benefitting residents and the environment.
Finally, the traditional stereotype of a static caravan is changing: the units themselves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations; which help to improve the visual character of the park and contribute positively to a sense of place. There are even ‘Eco’ units available, which have timber cladding and turfed roofs.
In the right place, these parks address the housing shortage and also provide a great environment for a specific need. A well-designed park with high-quality units and on-site facilities can create a thriving community.
Written by Richard Wooldridge, director at HPA.
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