Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence


Memorandum by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) (AH 98)

  The British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) is the national trade body representing the residential home parks industry in the UK.

THE BRITISH HOLIDAY & HOME PARKS ASSOCIATION

  The Association's membership owns or manages some 60% of residential home park pitches in the UK. Economic consultants Berkeley Hanover, working on a project for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)[212] 213 to study the economics of the park homes sector in England and Wales, identified some 1,700 residential home parks and current ODPM data suggests that they provide homes for about 200,000 people. The Economic Survey also established that demand for this sort of housing is likely to increase.

  The role and the nature of park homes are often poorly understood. Appendix 1 to this submission provides a basic description of this unique form of housing.

THE DEMAND FOR PARK HOMES

  In "Economics of the Park Homes Industry" Berkley Hanover looked specifically at the demand for park home housing and established the main reasons for choosing mobile home parks as:

    —  life-style choice (environment, community and security, design of the home);

    —  physical suitability of the home for their largely elderly occupants (ease and low cost of maintenance, single level living),

    —  low purchase price/best value in the area, and

    —  equity release.

  In particular, the report noted that the most conservative estimate for annual increase in the demand for park homes was 2% per annum. It was noted that this demand could well be far greater with increasing values in housing equity and reduced savings for retirement. Park owners' experience suggests that this is an extremely conservative estimate of the demand for park homes.

  Speaking in Bristol on 10 February, at BH&HPA's Conference 2005, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper noted:

    ". . . residents tend to have a much lower monthly income than other sectors of housing . . ."

    and that

    "The construction of park homes uses advanced construction techniques which are constantly developing. Many parks are very security aware with added security around them. Many have a strong sense of community. Many are located in idyllic rural and semi-urban locations . . . All of this is in part due to the majority of park owners who run often exceptional parks, and lest we forget the important role that many parks play helping to protect the environment, increasing numbers of parks are members of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme . . . So park homes do need to be recognised as having an important role in housing provision, they are the homes of choice for many people."

  And she further described the role that Government saw for park home development.

    "You will be aware that the wider approach we are taking is part of an attempt to build sustainable communities. We have recently published a document "Sustainable Communities: Homes for All" and park homes have a contribution to play as part of that wider work. "Homes for All" is key to creating sustainable mixed communities, based on the idea of promoting choice for people, about where they live, fairness, the opportunity to buy or to rent a good quality home.

    Park homes are an opportunity to promote diversity in housing choice, to help enhance the environment. If the market demands it, then they should be able to grow, meeting high standards as well."

  BH&HPA is anxious to ensure that national, regional and local authorities take adequate and appropriate account of the contribution that park homes (mobile homes) can make to the nation's housing stock and their role in satisfying a market demand at low cost.

  For older people especially, park homes offer high quality, low cost compact homes, in secure park environments, with the opportunity to buy at relatively modest prices, leaving funds available to invest in supplementary pension provision. For many, this allows them to remain in their home area, in quality housing, with additional pension provision. Park Homes are also ideal for those wishing to return to their "native" areas, or to move to different locations to be close to their relatives. (See Appendix 1)

PLANNING POLICY

  Planning policy is a matter of major concern to the residential park homes sector where it is frequently overlooked in favour of the traditional bricks-and-mortar housing offered by the UK's house building companies. This leads, inter alia, to a reduction in consumer choice. A key concern for residential home park owners and developers (and a genuine difficulty for potential residents) is the virtual impossibility of achieving planning consent for new mobile home pitches within the constraints of the current planning regime. These park homes could provide a valuable form of low cost accommodation to meet local needs; furthermore the wider housing market would benefit as conventional bricks and mortar homes became available.

  As government has given its ringing endorsement for this unique form of housing, it would therefore anomalous if national planning guidance (PPG3 and its successor) were not to acknowledge the availability and contribution of park homes. Unless the new PPS3 provides support for park homes, it seems unlikely that the industry will be able to supply homes to meet the demand for park homes that exists in the market place.

  Park home development can fulfil the following requirements:

    —  the needs of (usually elderly) people to make the life-style choice of the environment, community and security derived from park home living;

    —  the housing needs of the generally elderly residents for whom the park home is physically suitable with single level living and relatively straightforward and low cost of maintenance;

    —  the provision of low cost and! or affordable park home accommodation across all age groups (relative to the local bricks and mortar equivalent);

    —  the needs of people wishing to move to park homes in order to release capital from the sale of their bricks and mortar housing. The capital is often used to supplement pension provision or pay off an outstanding mortgage;

    —  the release of traditional bricks and mortar housing into the market place;

    —  the needs of non-local people wishing to move to an area for retirement purposes, perhaps to get closer to younger relatives so that they may provide care assistance;

    —  the needs of non-local people wishing to move into an area to take up employment; and

    —  the provision of key-worker housing through home park development. For example, in Oxfordshire, there are on-going discussions about the development of park home accommodation for key workers in the NHS Trust.

AFFORDABILITY

  A statement from Keith Hill, Minister for Planning and Housing, on 14 January 2005 supporting the role of the park home industry in providing affordable housing said:

    "Park Homes are a great source of affordable housing" . . .

  The press release went on to say:

    "The cost of a park home is substantially less than the cost of equivalent bricks and mortar accommodation. The ability to buy is thus within the scope of a wide range of potential occupiers. Park homes are easy and inexpensive to maintain and the surrounding gardens are small and also easily looked after. Park homes offer high quality compact homes, in secure park environments, with the opportunity to buy at relatively modest prices. They are suitable for a wide range of occupiers, from young couples to elderly single people and should be included within the definition of affordable housing."

  With the current emphasis on low cost and affordable housing and government backing for factory-built homes (especially in the South East), it is essential that the potential contribution of park homes is not overlooked. This is a long established and well tested form of "factory house-building", which has been proved to offer residents what they want—affordable individual detached dwellings, of the design they choose, set within secure communities.

Joan Clark

Deputy Director General



212   "Economics Of The Park Homes Industry" Berkeley Hanover Consulting & ODPM October 2002. Back


 
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