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YHA preferred bidder to take on Losehill Hall

This is an archived press release

Friday 17 December 2010

17 December 2010

YHA preferred bidder to take on Losehill Hall

A preferred bidder has been selected by the Peak District National Park Authority (Fri Dec 17) to take over Losehill Hall, its environmental learning and conference centre at Castleton.

Senior officers from the authority will now enter into detailed negotiations with the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) before an agreement is reached.

The Authority started looking for a partner to take over Losehill Hall after deciding it could no longer operate the centre due to expected Government budget cuts. The move will save the Authority £250,000 a year in running costs.

The YHA bid was one of four submitted after a wide-ranging campaign to invite potential partners. Other tenders came from the Field Studies Council, North Yorkshire Youth and the Lindley Educational Trust.

The YHA plan involves:

  • Using the building as a youth hostel
  • A major investment to refurbish the building, with work starting within months of an agreement being reached. This will avoid the building remaining empty for a long period.
  • Providing residential opportunities for 30,000 young people a year (8,000 more than currently accommodated at Castleton Youth Hostel)
  • Working in partnership with the Peak District National Park Authority’s learning service, which is currently based at Losehill Hall.

Narendra Bajaria, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “We evaluated all the bids to see if they were financially viable and to assess what contribution they would make, particularly the way their work would help achieve national park purposes by enabling people to enjoy and learn about this special area.

“We believe the YHA bid offers the best potential for a partnership which will see Losehill Hall go forward as an environmental learning and activity centre, delivering benefits to the national park, to the Hope Valley and to more young people than before.”

In September the Peak District National Park Authority placed staff in 28 full-time equivalent posts on notice of redeployment unless a viable partner could be found for Losehill Hall which was willing to take them on. The YHA proposal does not include plans to transfer any staff, but there is the possibility of accommodating the national park’s learning team at Losehill Hall and to work in partnership.

The Authority’s learning team will continue to deliver education services for young people, schools, families and communities within and surrounding the national park. Five or 4.5 full-time equivalent posts, plus 40 casual workers, who are currently based at Losehill Hall, will continue to work for the service.  

Members made their decision after hearing eight speakers from environmental organisations, the YHA and Field Studies Council, Castleton Parish Council and staff-members.

Members were also presented with 311 responses to an online public consultation, 150 letters and emails, and a 188-name online petition. In addition a drop-in public consultation at Losehill Hall attracted 30 people.

Most wanted Losehill Hall to continue as an environmental learning centre, and for the local economy to be strengthened.

The Grade 2 listed Losehill Hall, with 41 bedrooms, four training rooms and 27 acres of parkland, was built in 1882 as a private house. It became a holiday and education centre for the Co-operative Society in 1952, and the former Peak Park Planning Board took it over as a national park study centre in 1970.

This is an archived press release

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