Milford mobile home park residents accuse developer of 'bully boy tactics'
RETIREES living at a mobile home park fear being forced out by the “bully boy tactics” of a new owner who is redeveloping the land into a luxury site.
Carrington Park in New Lane, Milford, was recently bought by Royale and has been renamed Solent Grange amid a high-end transformation featuring new lodges costing up to £450,000.
Site resident John Badger (57) spoke out at a meeting of Milford Parish Council to say he and his wife’s enjoyment of what they planned to be their retirement home had been “utterly ruined”.
He told councillors how he still had over two years left on the lease of his mobile home but feared he would soon have to sell up and leave.
Royale denies the allegations and said it was “working hard to minimise the disruption caused by this essential building work”.
But Mr Badger said: “I believed I could keep my mobile home there until 2021 but the noise, the dust and the fact that when you go to the office to complain you get told ‘if you don’t like it, get off’ seems to be what they want – us to leave.
“But I don’t believe in bully boy tactics. We used to have stunning views of Sturt Pond and Hurst Castle but now we have a rusty skip, a mound of sand, gravel and two lodges parked in the field where children used to play.
“They could have put them anywhere in the field but they put them right in front of my mobile home, which seems deliberate to me.”
He said building work was starting early in the morning, around 7.45am, and had gone on at weekends. He also claimed that little care over safety seemed to be taken by digger drivers.
Mr Badger said he had complained numerous times to Royale representatives on the site but said: “Nobody seems to be doing anything.”
He also said that he had been warned that Royale could just order him to move his mobile home from its present “idyllic” spot to somewhere else on the site.
The land, which was previously owned by Tony Milne and operated as a holiday park for many years, benefits from an agreement dating back to 1961 allowing year-round residential occupation.
Milford councillors said they were concerned by Mr Badger’s complaints and by reports that hedges bordering the site and Sturt Pond had been “ripped out” leaving huge gaps.
Cllr Matt Goode said: “It sounds hideous. If work is remiss we need to know what is at happening at the New Forest District Council, maybe they need a little nudge.”
The parish council was bitterly opposed to the development of lodges on the site but has been powerless to stop it.
Chairman Cllr Bob Bishop said: “It’s absolute devastation. The company directors seem to be absolutely indifferent to what is going on there.
“We are concerned for the people who live there and we will be following this up.”
As reported by the A&T, Royale’s activities at the site are being investigated by New Forest District Council following a string of complaints from local people.
The Wickham-based company is marketing the lodges as luxury bungalows for the over-45s and there are plans to open a swimming pool and coffee shop. A two-bedroom lodge is currently on the market for £450,000.
On a visit to Solent Grange this week the A&T found long-term mobile home residents livid and upset about what is going on at the once idyllic site.
One man – who asked to remain anonymous – claimed: “We thought we had at least another four years to enjoy here. The building work starts very early, while we are still in bed, and goes on all day.
“There is absolutely no consideration for anyone still here. We have grandchildren who used to love to come play here but we daren’t have them over now because of all the diggers and things flying about.
“There is dirt everywhere. Caravans are being moved all the time and they drive them within literally inches of our vehicles. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an accident.
“A lot of people have given up already and decided to move their caravans to other sites, or sold them to the developers.
“The people with rolling year-leases were told they were being called in so that just left us, the people with longer term leases, to deal with.
“There were around 135 mobile homes here but by the end of the year there will be just 20.
“We’ve felt so blessed and lucky to have this, it’s really heart-breaking to think we will have to leave it.
“We moved here because we have relatives round the corner but we won’t be able to afford even a flat here so will have to move back 100 miles away to where we came from.”
The mobile home owner feared that next year Royale will put up rent and maintenance fees.
He said: “Usually by now we would have had notification of what that amount is going to be as it starts from January of the new year. But we’ve had nothing. I’m worried they are going to put it up to some astronomical amount which we won’t be able to afford as another way of making us leave.”
Another owner told of his “living hell” staying in his mobile home while the developing is going on. He said: “The other day they started levelling ground near us and the thump, thump, was just unbearable.
“I have been seriously ill recently and wanted to recuperate here but with the noise and dirt I just can’t.
“The fields adjacent to the site are normally covered in Canada geese at this time of year but there aren’t any at all. I’m concerned about what the building work is doing to the wildlife around here.
“It does feel like we are under siege. We are just waiting for them to tell us we have to move our mobile home as they can put us where they want and no doubt it will be somewhere awful.”
When contacted by the A&T, Royale claimed it had no record of complaints being made about building work going on at the site.
The company said in a statement: “We are really saddened to hear that holiday home owners feel they are being ‘bullied out’ and we would like to stress that this is absolutely not the case. We are working hard to minimise the disruption caused by this essential building work.
“Measures include restricting loud construction work to 8.30am-5pm Monday to Friday and halting work completely at weekends, when we appreciate is a peak time for holiday home use.
“We’ve also proposed to move caravans around the site so caravan owners are located further away from the development work.
“Ensuring our holiday home tenants are happy is extremely important to us and they are 100% welcome to stay for the duration of their lease. We have offered to provide a free relocation service to anyone who wishes to move as a gesture of goodwill and this is certainly not intended to push residents out.
“We were surprised to hear about these complaints via the newspaper and would reiterate, as we have previously, that our door is always open for residents to speak to us with any concerns.”
According to Royale, the hedges bordering Sturt Pond were only removed because they had died and they will be replaced. It said precautions had been taken to protect the hedge and local wildlife.
The company also claimed that all building materials and waste are confined to an area away from the holiday site. Any caravans parked in this area were damaged ones that have now been removed, it said.