The Peak District National Park Authority has decided. It is to sell Losehill Hall, the internationally renowned education centre in the heart of the Peak District, to the Youth Hostels Association (YHA). But it could have been a lot worse.
Last September it appeared that the national park officers were recommending to members that they dispose of Losehill Hall, without consultation and without inviting bids. Fortunately the members did not accept this – if they had, Losehill Hall might by now be set to become a posh hotel, care home or golf course.
Instead there was consultation and invitation of tenders. I supported the bid from the Field Studies Council to lease Losehill Hall, which I considered would ensure that the hall would continue to deliver national park purposes while retaining its spirit and ethos. But at its December meeting members decided to go with the offer from the YHA. This was finalised by the Services Committee on 21 January.
The good news is that the agreement includes a clause (which I trust is legally binding) to ensure that the building is used as a youth hostel and education and activity centre for at least 20 years. This is important as the YHA has a record of selling hostels. The YHA has pledged that it will create a ‘first-class hostel and world-class education centre’ and that it will ‘continue to expand and develop professional training’. It is important that it does these things.
It is extremely sad that the Peak has felt it must part with this wonderful asset, which has enhanced its reputation over the last 40 years. Losehill Hall is an incredibly special place. It has welcomed people from all over the world through its doors, and they have never forgotten the experiences of staying, and learning, in the heart of the national park.
We must ensure in the ownership of the YHA Losehill Hall changes as little as possible and continues to provide inspiration and education to all.