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Wealden Council
full details of decision

op ed

Wealden Council has refused the application for use of land for the stationing of 46 static holiday homes. The decision (11 April) was widely welcomed in the community. The view that the application would lead to overdevelopment was prevalent.

Jayne Stevenson commented, “glad I’m not an owner anymore, you’d have no chance getting a table or swim or doing your laundry. It’s too big as it is they surely don’t need anymore vans. Do local businesses benefit from the trade?

Local resident Helen Brown said, “So glad the planning was refused for more . Another 49 families in the village . With no extra Dr or Dentist etc etc etc .  I’ts not a holiday resort any more its an 11 month residential living facility .

The Pevensey Bay Journal described as absurd, some of the claims made by owners with regard to their contribution to the local economic infrastructure.

The newspaper said “Park Holidays UK has argued that the proposal will offer jobs that are “sustained, both directly in the park business and indirectly in the locality”. They have also suggested that “a market is created for local goods and services thereby supporting local businesses and public transport services”.

“In a third argument put forward owners explain that with holiday home operators “there is involvement in local causes and educational projects”.

The Pevensey Bay Journal scrutinised these claims in relation to the local economy and the claim made by Park Holidays that “there is involvement in local causes and educational projects”. They could not discover any such local causes or educational projects in the village.

Editor of the Journal, Simon Montgomery, said, “In the appendix to the proposal the notion that Park Holidays has created a market for local goods and services is meaningless without any reference to what is happening in Pevensey Bay. Where exactly is this market? Does this market take place at the back of St.Wilfrid’s Hall on alternative Sundays or something, must have missed that one”.

“What Park Holidays has done is create a market for themselves on the site with all the facilities and services that they offer.

“Are we expected to accept what the application says without scrutiny?|”

He added, “at a time when so many residents have struggled so hard to save our public library over the last two years, for example, some of what has been said in the application, with regard to what each new mobile home is expected to put into the local economy is open to question.

“A claim is made that as much as £18,000 is put into the village by each new mobile home…. that is a lot of haircuts”.

He said “in relation to the failure to save the library, what is particularly galling is the claim made that local educational causes are supported”.

Simon pointed out “the cost of saving the library was £18,000 a year. A donation of the sale of one mobile home by Park Holidays at £180,000 could have saved the library for ten years”.

He offered the view that the Park Home Home UK application is in part ‘economically illiterate’ and that some of the sentiments in the appendices were ‘worthless’.

Simon said that there was undeniable value to village of the site, and that this value was significant, but that without anything quantifiable in the application, that all the claims made “‘should be regarded as at best an overview of the holiday park industry, skewed to the advantage of the owners” and that “a proper local study in relation to economic advantages to the village should be commissioned as part of any new application”.

He ended the OpEd in the local newspaper by saying “what we need to do is build a meaningful relationship with the owners of the site. At present there is no relationship, just antagonism and resentment that nothing the community says is heard by the owners.

“We need to build some meaningful bridge here so that these question can be discussed at a local level by the owners and the community.

“A start of season open meeting, open to home owners and villagers, held in one of their five star facilities, might be a starting point.

“Such a meeting might be a PR triumph for Park Holidays and even sell another mobile home on the day, the good offices of Parish Council might provide useful support for such an initiative”.

Talking to members of the new Timberlaine Road Residents Association, founded in August 2018, Brian Stiff, secretary of the organisation said, “the refusal of the application may only be the first stage in a longer process. Park Homes may launch an appeal, so the matter is by no means settled as yet”.

The association has access to the the full decision report which we publish here.

Brian added, “Wealden Council appear to have taken most of our objections seriously, as the decision to refuse is based on the points we raised.

He concluded “I also will contact Wealden regarding the applications to extend the operating period of the site, as there has not been any notice regarding these”.

Park Holidays UK operates 30 holiday parks in the South of England and is the largest holiday park operator along the South Coast.

In 2009 wiki tells us that the company was nominated for ‘Best UK Domestic Holiday Operator’ in the British Travel Awards and in early 2019, for the third year in a row, global ratings and reviews provider Feefo awarded Park Holidays UK the Gold Service Award.

Wiki also tells us that In December 2015, Park Holidays UK relocated its head office from Coghurst Hall, Hastings, to Glovers House, Bexhill-on-Sea with approximately 90 staff members. In December 2016 it was announced that Caledonia Investments had agreed terms on a sale to Tiger Bidco Ltd, a company incorporated by Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), who remain the current owners.

The Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) is a class act. They specialise, their website tells us, “in private debt, equity and credit, providing financing solutions across the capital structure, and pioneering new strategies where we can deliver value to our investors”.

The assets under their management, built over 29 years are impressive. They say “at ICG, our proven track record over 29 years demonstrates our ability to respond to market opportunities and generate consistently high returns across economic cycles.

“Central to our success is our disciplined investment culture, which brings together a network of skills and expertise through long standing relationships, to provide us with unique market insight and opportunities. Our strong balance sheet and access to capital is critical in enabling us to pioneer new strategies and serve as an anchor investor to develop and accelerate new funds”.

Their accounts published in June 2018 indicate profits before tax of £199.1m.

They clearly do a tremendous job for their shareholders. Only a cynic would argue that the real reason for the application for 46 more mobile homes made to Wealden Council was to satisfy the sentiments of the shareholders of The Intermediate Capital Group (ICG).

Dianne Dear who is the publisher of The Pevensey Bay Journal and Bay Life is standing as an independent councillor in the Wealden Council elections. She ‘called in’ the application to Wealden Council, arguing the case that the application was an example of ‘over development’.

The Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) and Park Holidays UK talk the talk.

The group talks about ‘pioneering new strategies’ and a ‘disciplined investment culture’.

Part of that culture, even if there was no pioneering strategy to support the educational cause of our precious public library here, could be to begin to talk to the community.

In the absence of anything other than shareholder concern poking through the undergrowth of the natural habitat of the application made by Park Holiday, people might be left with the view that they could not care less.

The site has been open since 1948, providing three generations of people with the joy of a holiday home.

A practical acknowledgement of the needs and voice of the village would not go amiss at this point from the owners of the site.

Any further development of the site should note what local people have to say and the economic imperatives of a community that is deserving of inward investment, grants, educational support, coastal communities funding and partnership funding.

The location of Pevensey Bay is behind the success of the park home, not just in historical terms, but also for the current generation of holiday home owners.

There is an Indian expression that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. This is no less true of a holiday home site.

It took the village of Pevensey Bay to raise the Park Homes site.

Congratulations to the Timberlaine Road Residents Association and their fight against Park Home Holidays with this development and all the many local individual objectors.

There is a clear case to be made that what the village now has to say about any further developments to the site should be heard.