With the growth of the staycation market in Britain following the pandemic, an award-winning Durham-based firm of architects is seeing a big uplift in its leisure sector development work, creating a new business stream.

The tendency for holiday makers to stay close to home is now supporting the development of almost 600 static holiday homes, lodges and log cabins at holiday parks and leisure venues up and down the country for Howarth Litchfield.

The firm is currently working on schemes at seven sites, each at a different stage of planning or procurement, and stretching from the south west through to Yorkshire, the Lakes and the north east coast, where one project also involves the construction of a new swimming pool for an established holiday park.

The range of services offered by Howarth Litchfield varies from site to site, but covers the full spectrum of the practice’s service offering including master planning, concept design, detailed design incorporating the planning process, detailed technical design and design coordination with offsite manufacturers to ensure the original design intent is followed.

Howarth Litchfield director, Keith Handy, has a sound understanding of offsite manufacturing techniques and their coordination with specialist providers as well as comprehensive residential master planning knowledge.  Such expertise led to four of the firm’s current seven instructions  coming its way.

Commenting on the influx of leisure sector development work, Mr Handy said:  “Various travel and leisure organisations also support the view that the Coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting effect on the travel industry with new research indicating that 73% of Brits will choose to holiday within the UK, even after the Coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted and the UK market is struggling to keep up.

“For this reason, one of the schemes we are working on in Cornwall has been brought forward. Here, we have 166 lodges currently going through planning and we’re also involved in some ancillary and leisure facilities too.  On this scheme, we are working with Eko Custom Homes which offer high quality  traditional homes which will be built using innovative NHBC approved methods. One we get the go ahead from the planning authorities, the lodges will be manufactured off site complete with finishes, lifted onto site foundations within 12 weeks, and installed in 48 hours.

“This off-site fabrication process allows leisure operators to respond swiftly to market trends and furthermore, it is a highly efficient way to progress schemes as we are not affected by the weather in the same way that we would be on a normal construction site, particularly in the winter months.

“The important aspect of our work is about creating a strong sense of place in each location. If a holiday park forms part of a chain it must have a corporate ‘look and feel’ to it with good wayfinding, yet at the same time, it’s important for it to have its own unique appeal and a variety of distinctive features across each site, which tends to be led by the local context.

“A good holiday park is about the experience of each family, so at all times, we must cater for everyone’s needs such as quiet places away from the hustle and bustle; areas where families can integrate; areas for social activities with quality bars and with dining experiences where people can eat out in some style. Activities for kids must also be diverse with wake parks, wave boarding and swimming.  Therefore, the initial masterplan must be as dynamic as possible.”

The first of the seven current projects to start on site is likely to be in Cornwall.