Residents have reacted with shock, anger and sadness after learning the site of their holiday homes is set to be redeveloped.
Shripney Gardens Caravan Park was bought in April by Connor Park Homes, however residents claim they have been kept in the dark with some ‘still not knowing they will have to move’.
One woman, who has owned a holiday home on the site for the past four years, said: “The first we knew about it is when the developers came on. We asked if it was sold and they said ‘yes, we are the new owners’. They bought it, not as a caravan site, but as a development.
“There are people that have been here 20 years. People have parted with their life savings because we were led to believe this would be long-term. There have been a lot of tears, we have been helping people take down balconies.”
Former owner Cliff Lineton, who cites ‘ill health’ as his reason for sale, said the new owners ‘promised me it would stay as a caravan park for the next two years’, something Felix, of Connor Park Homes, contests.
Mr Connor said: “I don’t think he was concerned what our plans were with the site.
“As far as we are concerned it is a simple thing, we have bought a park, all these homes are on an annual agreement which we are bringing to an end.
“We are going to get everyone together and explain this isn’t personal. I would be horrified if they didn’t think we want to work with them. We want them to enjoy the rest of the season. We could have come in and told them all much later. We are trying to be fair.”
The resident, who is too afraid to be named, explained the end of the year isn’t viable.
“You can’t move the van in the winter so if we can’t find a place for it you might as well burn it down.”
Mr Connor outlined his plans for a ‘five-star standard’ site with ‘state-of-the-art holiday homes’.
The resident revealed the site already had ‘exclusive’ homes on it, some of which were bought in the past year.
However the residents admitted their ‘gripe’ isn’t with the new owners but the old and they plan to take matters further.
As one said: “It has made people ill – we have nothing now, absolutely nothing.”
Nigel Lynn, Arun’s chief executive, said the situation at Shripney Garden Caravan Park ‘has highlighted an issue which we wouldn’t want any other prospective mobile home residents to face’.
He said: “It has been brought to the council’s attention that the site has changed ownership and the new owners have not yet submitted a site licence transfer application, which the council is pursuing.
“We will also be investigating a potential breach of planning control.”
However he added ‘owners being asked to remove their caravans at the end of the year is not in breach of any caravan site licensing laws’, meaning Arun is ‘powerless to intervene’.
Mr Lynn revealed the council has suggested other routes for the residents to explore, such as trading standards, and is ‘still investigating the possibility that we can help further’.