CONTROVERSIAL plans by the Peak District National Park Authority to sell environmental study centre Losehill Hall to the Youth Hostels Association at what is believed to be a £550,000 loss have been approved.
The historic building, at Castleton, is being disposed of to save £250,000 annual running costs – and the Youth Hostels Association has agreed 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 £2 million invested in refurbishing the centre so it can provide classrooms and accommodation for up to 144 guests. This will see an increase in the number of young people learning at Losehill Hall from 3,000 to 30,000 a year and enable the National Park’s learning and discovery team to continue operating from a base within the hall.
YHA’s business at Castleton Youth Hostel transferred to Losehill Hall once the refurbishment has been completed.
Christopher Pennell, chairman of the National Park 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.”
But the transfer means the courses held for tens of thousands of environmental professionals each year will cease and 40 jobs will go.
Victorian Grade II listed Losehill Hall has 41 bedrooms and hosts residential study courses for children and environmental professionals. It was used by 22,000 people last year.
The sale price is believed to be about £1.2 million, £550,000 less than its £1.75m market value. It was thought likely to struggle to find a buyer on the open market.