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Holiday park which folded owing investors millions still empty - but new owners confident of success

PUBLISHED: 14:44 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:22 30 July 2019

The park appeared empty of guests Picture: ANDREW HIRST

The park appeared empty of guests Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Archant

New owners of a collection of holiday parks, which collapsed earlier this year owing millions to investors, say they are confident of making it a success.

The gates of Fornham Park were closed during a recent visit Picture: ANDREW HIRSTThe gates of Fornham Park were closed during a recent visit Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Exclusive Luxury Lodges, which took-over sites including Fornham Park, near Bury St Edmunds, and Norfolk Park in North Walsham, said it had worked "tirelessly" to ensure a smooth transition.

The company, trading as Countrywide Park Homes, bought the parks in February 2019, just weeks after their previous owners Dream Lodge Group went into administration.

MORE: Customers paid millions of pounds for holiday lodges which were never built

More than 1,150 creditors claimed to have been owed £25.6m from Dream Lodge after investing in a scheme, which promised a return of 8% on payments of between £25,000 to £400,000 - plus four weeks holiday a year at any one of eight parks across the UK.

Advertising for holiday chalets at Fornham Park Picture: ANDREW HIRSTAdvertising for holiday chalets at Fornham Park Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Rental payments stopped last year and one woman who invested £165,000 in a Fornham Park lodge said the company's closure would change her life drastically.

Holidaymakers who booked at Fornham Park under Dream Lodge were told by new owners their bookings would be honoured - but some were disappointed.

One couple, who arrived in May, said while the lodges and park were "lovely" most were empty and their accommodation had no hot water or heating. Although the couple said they were initially offered a return visit rather than a refund, Exclusive Luxury Lodges later said a full refund was provided.

While the park has remained open, few lodges appeared in use when we visited earlier this month and gates were closed.

Communities living nearby say they have been confused by recent events.

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Michael Collier, chairman for Fornham St Martin cum St Genevieve Parish Council said "we are struggling to make anything of it".

Mr Collier said there had been a number of applications to build more lodges at the park. "We are a little concerned as to what might happen next, so we are waiting to see what's round the corner."

West Suffolk Council approved two applications at the site on July 18, which allowed two lodges to be used as accommodation for the manager and warden. A council spokesman said all other lodges were restricted to holiday use.

New partnership with Hoeseasons

Exclusive Luxury Lodges said the collapse of Dream Lodge Group "unfortunately meant a lot of people lost substantial amounts of money" - but that since buying the parks the company had worked "tirelessly" to ensure a comfortable transition.

The company said it had honoured any holiday bookings made prior to the liquidation "to prevent any holidaymakers missing out on their holiday experience.

"Exclusive Luxury Lodges, trading as Countrywide Park Homes has since partnered with Hoseasons to be able to offer the holiday facility once again," a spokesman added.

"We have put in place various measures to ensure the success of each of our holiday parks. We appreciate this is not something that would happen immediately, and we would like to thank the local communities for their patience. We look forward to the local economy surrounding the parks being restored in the coming months."

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