Shocked holiday park residents told to quit mobile homes for a month

Kingfisher Holiday Park, Burgh Castle.Photo: Andy Darnell

Kingfisher Holiday Park, Burgh Castle.Photo: Andy Darnell - Credit: Archant © 2011

Mobile home owners are reeling from a closure bombshell which means scores of people will have to quit their homes for a month every year.

Uncertainty over the legal status of the caravan community at Kingfisher Holiday Park in Burgh Castle was lifted two years ago after it emerged hundreds of people were living there - albeit unwittingly - without the proper permission.

Many feared eviction but in the end the council decided on a compromise deal to let people stay until they moved or died, bringing about a gradual return to holiday use.

This week however the park’s owners Island Meadow Parks in West Sussex wrote to all the caravan owners, many of whom are retired, saying they had to move out for a month from February 1-28 next year as a result of the council enforcement notice served in May 2011.

Julia Ryder who moved to the Broadland park six years ago and has no other home said the letter came as a “bombshell” to residents, rekindling old anxieties.

She said many elderly or infirm people as well as those with young children in local schools or pets had nowhere else to go.

She added people were worried about the security of their caravans and belongings especially as the site, while “closed”, still provided public access to the bar.

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The 56-year-old said residents were seeking legal advice as well as the support of local MPs in a bid to force a re-think. “A lot of people will be stranded,” she added. “A lot of people have sold their homes to come on here and people are saying they will not be moving off.”

Meanwhile Gemma Manthorpe, enforcement officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said she had no planning issue with the proposed closure but said it was a “complex case.”

Her focus was on compliance with the notice served in May 2011 which comes into force from August 1 this year.

From that date anyone found in breach of the planning regulations faces prosecution and the prospect of a heavy penalty including a criminal record and a fine of up to £20,000.

Officials she said would be checking that people new to the park had another permanent address and were not living there illegally - but would not be looking at those covered by the notice.

She added the council’s housing department had indicated it would not be able to re-house the estimated 170 people set to be made temporarily homeless.

Harvey Pratt, assistant director of Island Meadow Parks said introducing the month-long closure was the best way of complying with the enforcement notice which ultimately wanted to see the park returned to holiday use.

He said a current mix of arrangements with owners was “not working” and that the park had to be seen to be taking sufficient steps to comply, or risk losing its licence.

“New people are coming on to the park and the current mix is not working,” he said. “This is why we have put everyone on eleven months which is the best way to bring the park back to holiday use. At the end of the day the whole park only has planning permission for holiday use so no-one can live on it.”

Mr Pratt added the park would be taking steps to maintain security.