Elderly caravan owners forced to sell up at Rosetta

The new owners of Rosetta Caravan Park in Peebles has angered its residential customers by not renewing their site leases.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 1:29 pm
Rosetta Hoilday Park, Peebles.

The decision by Darwin Escapes has left many owners, many of them elderly, facing the huge cost of relocating their caravans, or selling up for a fraction of their original outlay.

One owner, Jim Paxton from Whitburn in West Lothian, bought his caravan in 2013, which had seven years left of a 20-year lease.

He said: “I was told by the previous owners of the park that provided the caravan was in good condition, which it is, the licence would automatically renew. Of course, this was verbal.

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Rosetta Hoilday Park, Peebles.

“This year, with the coronavirus lockdown, we have not been able to come down to the caravan until recently.

“It’s only when we got back in that we found out the park had changed hands.

“Then, Darwin Escapes made their first contact, a letter, which told us our licence would not be renewed and we would have to remove the caravan from the site before December 31.

“This bombshell came out of the blue.

“My wife and I are 70 and we have been handed a nightmare. It is doubtful any site would take in another caravan that old, no matter how good a condition it is in.”

The letter sent to all leaseholders whose agreements expire this year states: “We write to advise that we will not be renewing or extending the agreement period.

“We therefore give you notice that your holiday home must be removed from site by the 31st December 2020.

“Should you have any problems in arranging for your holiday home to be removed then we ask that you contact Darwin Escapes as soon as possible in order that we may try to assist with locating a company who may be able to complete the removal.

“Unfortunately, due to the age of your holiday home, it may be that such company may take a charge.”

Jim said owners at the site are furious at the move.

He added: “We’ve had to sell ours on ... there was a dealer on the site who bought up a load of them. We decided it was the best thing we could do.

“We can’t fight it, as the license is up this year, and they are perfectly within their rights to throw us out ... but it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

“We did look at putting it onto another site, but to be honest, most of them are packed like sardines.

“Basically, they have thrown out everybody on the top half of the caravan site. That part of the site opened 20 years ago.

“When you bought your caravan you got a 20-year licence with it. If you sold it in that period – we bought ours seven years ago – you took on what was left of the licence.

“There was one lady there, who is 75 and a widow.

“She used her bus pass to go down from Edinburgh to her caravan. After she got her letter, she phoned me, upset, saying: ‘I don’t know what I’ve done wrong’.

“This new crowd has come in and has gone through the site like a dose of salts. It was all commercial, there was no feeling to it at all.

“I’ve been speaking to some of the people who originally bought their caravans 20 years ago, and they are basically bursting into tears.

“All is not rosy at Rosetta ... everybody’s just absolutely raging.”

Jim believes the new owner will instal premium caravans on that particular area of the site.

He said: “If you look at the Darwin Escapes website, most of the caravans they have are in the £130-140,000 bracket.

“The site we were on has the best views, looking over the hills.”

Darwin Escapes bought the site – which was on the market for offers over £3m from Savills in May.

We asked the company to confirm its plans for the site, which is set in 48 acres, within the grounds of the Grade II listed Rosetta House.

Fiona Bousfield, head of marketing at Darwin Escapes, told us: “We can confirm that we have purchased Rosetta Holiday Park and that it has become part of the Darwin Escapes brand, which has 21 holiday resort locations and three golf courses across the UK.

“We can also confirm that we are not renewing site licences that have already expired or any site licences that are due to expire in 2020.

“Naturally, we are unable to comment on anything that the previous owners might have implied or said.”