Losehill Hall deal will help Peak economy

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THE future of Castleton’s Losehill Hall has been secured after it was sold to the Youth Hostels Association (YHA).

And the deal, between the Peak District National Park Authority and the YHA, 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 to 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 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 Government grant it receives would be cut by £1.7 million over the next four years.

The decision will save them £250,000 a year in running costs but see staff in 28 full-time equivalent posts made redundant.

The learning team will continue to deliver education services for young people, schools, families and communities, securing the future of staff in 4.5 full-time equivalent posts, plus 40 casual workers.