This is an archived press release
Tuesday 25 January 2011
The future of a Peak District National Park learning centre has been secured enabling the number of education courses it provides to be expanded.
The Peak District National Park Authority has agreed to sell Losehill Hall at Castleton to YHA (the Youth Hostels Association) in a deal which includes a legal clause to ensure the building is used as a Youth Hostel and education and activity centre for a minimum of 20 years.
The agreement will also:
- See YHA invest £2 million in refurbishing the centre so it can provide classrooms and accommodation for up to 144 guests
- Increase the number of young people learning at Losehill Hall from 3,000 to 30,000 a year
- Enable the Peak District National Park Authority's learning and discovery team to continue operating from a base within Losehill Hall
- See YHA's existing business at Castleton Youth Hostel transferred to Losehill Hall once the refurbishment has been completed
Christopher Pennell, chair of the authority's services committee, said: "This enables Losehill Hall to continue as a centre of excellence that promotes understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Peak District National Park.
"The partnership with YHA offers opportunities to increase and jointly market a range of environmental education courses. It also ensures that Losehill Hall will continue to play an important part in the life and economy of Castleton and the wider Hope Valley."
Caroline White, YHA's chief executive, said: "YHA's vision is to reach out and enhance the lives of young people. We will offer a wide range of learning activities such as environmental understanding, and life skills, at Losehill Hall.
"We will keep the existing Youth Hostel in Castleton open whilst Losehill Hall is refurbished over the coming year, giving us time to work with the Peak District National Park Authority to minimise disruption to our guests and neighbours, and to determine the future use of the hostel in Castleton."
The authority started looking for a partner to take over Losehill Hall after being told the grant it receives from the Government would be cut by 28.5 per cent - £1.7 million - over the next four years.
The decision will save the authority £250,000 a year in running costs but has led to staff in 28 full-time equivalent posts being made redundant.
Christopher Pennell said: "This has been a very difficult decision that has sadly seen some staff lose their jobs but the agreement that has been reached enables us to bring together the experience of our learning and discovery team and the YHA to continue the legacy of the past 40 years.
"We were determined to ensure that the deal we reached with the YHA would meet the second of the authority's statutory purposes - to promote public understanding of the national park - as well as helping to relieve our financial pressures."
The authority's learning team will continue to deliver education services for young people, schools, families and communities within and surrounding the national park. This secures the future of staff in 4.5 full-time equivalent posts, plus 40 casual workers.