UPDATED: Owners of static caravans located at St Helens Holiday Park on the Isle of Wight have been told they must vacate the site by 31st December in order to make way for site improvements – an exact repeat of the controversial action seen at Rookley Country Park last year.
Letters informing owners that they have less than 4 months to leave the site at Field Lane and find a new home were sent out yesterday (Saturday).
Although owners now have several months to make alternative arrangements, there has been a push for them to make a decision by 12th October – less than 4 weeks away.
Park operators Island View Holidays, part of Aria Resorts, say that they are not renewing annual licences as pitches at the park need to be reclaimed in order to make substantial improvements. This is said to be part of a wider investment plan for their sites across the Island which include Rookley Country Park, The Bay at Colwell and Priory Bay Hotel.
It was just 12 months ago that caravan owners at Rookley Country Park received similar letters informing them that they also had until the end of the year to find somewhere else to site their caravans. The situation angered many and led to regional press coverage.
The Island’s MP, Bob Seely, got involved in the battle and called for a change in the law to protect static home owners. He said that there should be a requirement for those buying a plot to be given a leasehold for a specified time.
It appears that call has been taken onboard by Aria Resorts as they are offering a 20-year lease if owners move to Rookley Country Park under a part-exchange programme.
3 options have been laid out for those facing eviction;
1) There is the opportunity to upgrade their home through a part-exchange programme and move to Rookley Country Park. Preferential rates will be offered to current St Helens owners. This option will come with a minimum of a 20-year lease to provide certainty in the future
2) A transitional package which includes funding of up to £1,500 to transport each unit to another site of choice. This option must be agreed between the unit owner and Island View Holidays by 31st October
3) Option to discuss with park owners about selling each caravan to a trader
Option 2 may be one explored by many, especially if theh looking to stay on the Island, however other parks do not generally accept caravans that are over 10-years-old.
Owners have been told that, due to insurance reasons, Island View Holidays are the only organisation allowed to disconnect and move caravans from their pitches to the entrance of the park in readiness for it to be moved to a new location.
Speaking to Island Echo, one of those affected said:
“We are all angry, upset and devastated.
“We knew it could happen one day, but it’s the way they [Aria Resorts] have done it again – no heart at all for anyone.
“Owners are once again set to loose thousand of pounds”.
Home owners have been asked if they could acknowledge the letter and indicate their choice no later than 12th October.
UPDATE @ 11:39 – Aria Resorts have said that the improvements planned for St Helens Holiday Park include upgrading the quality of accommodation and facilities, a welcome area, a bistro, family entertainment and other activities.
Les Robertson, Head of Commercial Operations, Aria Resorts, has today said:
“We are committed to fully supporting residents at St. Helens and ensuring that we create one of the most modern and responsible holiday operations on the Isle of Wight.
“We are focused on improving facilities across the island so that it becomes an even more attractive destination for holidaymakers wanting to enjoy the beauty of the region.”