If appeal to save homes fails ‘life as we know it will end’

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LOSING thEIR lifetime’s investment will be a blow residents facing eviction from their park homes “can never recover from”, a public inquiry was told yesterday.

Retired civil servant Alan Coates told the inquiry he was unaware of any planning restrictions when he and his wife bought their home on Lakeminster Park, near Beverley in 2008 and paid full council tax, only to find their idyll shattered two years later.

Mr Coates, 69, who is appealing along with Lakeminster Park Limited against the refusal of planning permission for permanent residential use, said they “desperately wanted to carry on where they lived.”

He said they’d lived before in a village and town and “nothing compares with life on Lakeminster Park” where like-minded people lived, who were ready to rally round when needed.

Leaving the park would represent “a return to a life of isolation or relative isolation” and they would struggle to afford the £650 to £750 needed to rent a flat.

He added: “We have always tried to plan our lives, our investments and what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go; we could never have imagined what has happened in the past three years. If the appeal fails life as we know it would come to an end.”

Mr Coates, who said a solicitor told him he didn’t need his advice when buying his home “because buying a park home is rather like a caravan” added: “We think the advantages we enjoy here are worth fighting for.”

Residents, many of whom are pensioners, are split, with some pursuing legal action against the owners to try and get their money back. Last week the man who ran the site, William Flannigan, was charged with ten counts of misselling homes restricted for holiday use as year-round residences.

Barrister Philip Engelman, for East Riding Council, put it to Mr Coates that a number of residents described the atmosphere on the estate as “unbearable”. He said: “Is there not a substantial divide on the site between those who wish to continue there and those who want to get their money back?”

But Mr Coates said he helped draft a form asking: “Do you want to continue living on the site” which was circulated after another resident called for support in getting off the “unhappy site”. His form was signed by 58 per cent on the park - including some who were taking legal action. The inquiry continues.