Caravan owners furious after park suddenly blocks sales of properties

Fran Topple, front, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft

Fran Topple, front, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, who are angry that Tingdene will not allow them to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. From left, Jeff Topple (front), Stephen Smith, Bob and Jacky Hitcham, Nadia Welling, Charles Everrett, and Tony Coles. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Furious caravan owners have slammed a holiday park after a ban on selling properties more than a decade old was suddenly enforced.

Owners say they were "welcomed and reassured" when they moved their 14-year-old caravans to Tingdene's North Denes park that the policy would not apply to the Lowestoft site.

Six years later, however, and they claim to have suddenly seen sales blocked following an apparent change earlier this summer, which came without warning.

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lo

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, who are angry that Tingdene will not allow them to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. From left, Tony Coles, Charles Everrett, Nadia Welling, Bob and Jacky Hitcham, Jeff Topple and Stephen Smith. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Caravan owner Fran Topple claims Tingdene only informed all owners of the apparent change in practice at least five weeks after one sale was blocked on August 1.

She said: "When more than a dozen of us moved from another park they were incredibly welcoming.

"There was a clause in place saying caravans over 10 years old couldn't be resold or bequeathed, but we were all told that providing it was in good condition, we could sell them at any age, and that was what was happening until earlier this summer.

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be all

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be allowed to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"Prior to signing the licence agreement, we queried this clause and were informed it did not apply to North Denes.

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"Our caravan was already 14 years old at the time and we would certainly not have moved it had we not had the reassurance."

Tingdene Lifestyle, who did not respond to a request for comment, wrote to Mrs Topple last week, saying: "As the landlord and park operator, we are implementing 6.4 of the park licence which states that no caravans over the age of 10 years old will be permitted to be assigned.

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lo

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, who are angry that Tingdene will not allow them to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. From left, Tony Coles, Charles Everrett, Nadia Welling, Bob and Jacky Hitcham, Jeff Topple and Stephen Smith. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"You can, of course, sell your caravan, however it would need to be to a purchaser 'off site'.

"Whilst we understand that this may be disappointing to read, our position on the matter is final."

Judith Fenton-Allen has also had her caravan on the site for six years, but told staff of her decision to sell on August 1.

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be all

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be allowed to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

She said: "We had an opportunity to sell our caravan on July 31 and the next day we told the assistant manager we were leaving.

"She told us to our face that she was sorry to see us go, but by the time we walked back to our caravan she had emailed to say we weren't allowed to sell.

"The rule has always been in place, but our caravan was 14 years old when we brought it to the site and we queried it at the time and we were told it would be fine as long as they were kept in tip-top condition.

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lo

Fran Topple, front centre, and other owners of static caravans at the North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, who are angry that Tingdene will not allow them to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. From left, Tony Coles, Charles Everrett, Nadia Welling, Bob and Jacky Hitcham, Jeff Topple and Stephen Smith. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"They just won't listen to reason."

Mrs Topple, who turns 73 next month, hopes to retire from her role as a personal assistant, and planned to list her caravan on the market at around £13,000.

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be all

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be allowed to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

She said: "I want to retire. I do love my work but my health isn't great.

"I purchased my caravan with my pension pot in the hope that we would have a few years with it and then sell it so we had money in the bank and I could put my feet up if I wanted to.

"This would cost us immense hardship, and the stress and anguish this has caused is also not acceptable.

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be all

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be allowed to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"Emotions have come into it now for an awful lot of owners. I can't put it into words how people are feeling."

Similarly, for Mrs Fenton-Allen, the sale of her caravan would have covered "more than half" of the loan for her new holiday home.

She said: "Our only options were to remove it from Tingdene or to rent it out, and we have decided to rent it for now.

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be all

The Tingdene North Denes Caravan Park at Lowestoft, where owners have been told they will not be allowed to sell their caravans if they are over 10 years old. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"We were so cross that we didn't want to make a quick decision. At least this way we can take our time and work out what we can do."

Both owners claim another resident at the park had the sale of their caravan blocked by Tingdene after already buying a new caravan with the company and taking a deposit from their prospective buyer, which then had to be returned.

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