Shar­ing more than just time…

Fancy a Cor­nish re­treat where you can re­lax for the odd week or two? Les­ley Gillilan finds one where you can en­joy the eco life

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Timeshare -

Peter and Donna Ock­enden love Corn­wall. But al­though they wanted to spend more time there, they couldn’t stretch to buy­ing a prop­erty. “The cost of our mort­gage and our school fees meant we were not in a po­si­tion to buy a sec­ond home,” says Peter, a Hamp­shire-based quan­tity sur­veyor. “And even if we were, we would have strug­gled to keep it go­ing.” But they found a way of own­ing a Cor­nish bolt­hole: not free­hold, but time­share.

It is not your usual time­share, but part of a com­mu­nity of new­build houses, set in a wooded cor­ner of the Trelowar­rren es­tate on the Lizard Penin­sula. In 1,000 acres, a mile from the near­est road, the lo­ca­tion could not be bet­ter for their young chil­dren.

Beau­ti­fully fur­nished and open plan, the oak and gran­ite house has three bed­rooms, two bath­rooms and a bal­cony with views over the es­tate. At cur­rent prices, a 30-year lease on a lowsea­son week in a sim­i­lar house, costs about £7,000. And if you still think time­share is a dirty word, this is “eco time­share”.

The Trelowar­ren time­share scheme was dreamt up by Sir Fer­rers Vyvyan in 2002 as a prag­matic way of pro­vid­ing a vi­able fu­ture for his an­ces­tral home (his fam­ily has been here since 1427). He started with two up­graded pe­riod cot­tages, and a ter­race of four houses in a con­verted es­tate of­fice. As time­shares go, the deal was pretty stan­dard, but aside from of­fer­ing a buy-back guar­an­tee (at cost, af­ter five years) Fer­rers had a green agenda from the start. The houses were highly in­su­lated, fur­nished with nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and dec­o­rated with or­ganic paints. He set up his own com­pany to build the new houses, which would be car­bon neu­tral. The houses use rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing and re­cy­cled news­pa­per in­su­la­tion.

A “dis­trict” boiler, which pumps hot wa­ter to all the prop­er­ties, is fed by cop­pice pro­duced on the land. Last year, the World Travel awards deemed Trelowar­ren one of the world’s lead­ing green re­sorts (the only one in the UK). But al­though this does help at­tracts hol­i­day rentals, it is the time­share, rather than the eco, that seems to sell the place.

“We bought be­cause it gave us the op­por­tu­nity to spend time in a place that we couldn’t pos­si­bly hope to own,” says Peter. “But, un­like a rented hol­i­day­home, there is a sense of own­er­ship.”

The Ock­endens orig­i­nally bought a Septem­ber week in Fo­gou, a thatched es­tate cot­tage, four years ago. When the first batch of new houses were com­pleted in 2006, they up­graded to a fort­night in Chyreen. Now they own three weeks, mak­ing them typ­i­cal among Trelowar­ren buy­ers, who don’t seem to be able to stop at just the one.

Jenifer Young started with one spring week in one of the small­est of the orig­i­nal es­tate of­fice con­ver­sions, bought when the first wave of time­shares were launched back in 2003. She now owns six weeks (three in April, two in June, and one in July), spread across three dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties.

“I found a week’s stay just wasn’t long enough,” says Jenifer. “And since I’d al­ready made a bit of a profit, the prospect of a sec­ond price rise prompted me to buy more weeks.”

Buy­ers have seen in­creases, es­pe­cially in the first cou­ple of years, but there is an “ouch” fac­tor in the an­nual ser­vice charges, which are £400 per week on av­er­age, more on the larger prop­er­ties. Time­share own­ers can hol­i­day-let, and the go­ing rate at Trelowar­ren is about £2,500 a week in high sea­son.

Jenifer Young’s July week was bought purely as a rental in­vest­ment to cover the ma­jor­ity of her costs. But she does not see it as an in­vest­ment in the con­ven­tional sense.

“The pay­back comes from spend­ing time at Trelowar­ren,” she says. “And the charges re­flect the qual­ity of the ac­com­mo­da­tion and the set­ting.”

There is an ozone pool in a walled gar­den, a restau­rant in the old stable-yard; Lizard beaches and the Helford river are just a few miles away. And with time­share, you al­ways know the neigh­bours.

“Most of our own­ers say they like to feel part of a com­mu­nity,” says Fer­rers. “And I’ve no­ticed a grow­ing un­ease about the whole busi­ness of buy­ing homes that are left empty for most of the year. In that re­spect, time­share could be seen as a green choice.”

Trelowar­ren time­share prices cur­rently range from £4,500 to £35,000 per week. The lat­ter is for a 30-year lease in high sea­son. Re­sales in­clude the re­main­ing 25 years on a late April week at £7,300. And six new eco­houses are to be built in the win­ter.

Eco fam­ily: Peter and Donna Ock­enden with (from left) Phoebe, Caiti and Francesca out­side their lodge; Peter lights the wood-burn­ing stove

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