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YHA £5 million new Youth Hostel for the South Downs gets the green light
    04/12/2012 01:17

£5 million new Youth Hostel for the South Downs gets the green light

With further funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the national youth hostelling charity YHA has been given the green light to complete the transformation of Itford Farm, located at the gateway of the South Downs National Park near Lewes in East Sussex, into a brand new Youth Hostel and Visitor Centre.

The project conceived and progressed by Active Lewes, a Lewes-based not-for-profit company, will transform 13th Century farm buildings into a 68-bed Youth Hostel, café and visitor centre, which will be open to non-residents. Work is now underway and it is expected that the new facilities will be up and running by spring 2013. The new Youth Hostel will be known as YHA South Downs.

Active Lewes working with the Greenbank Trust began fundraising for the £5 million project in 2001 and secured significant funds to enable the project to proceed In addition to YHA, other significant contributions have come from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the South Downs National Park Sustainable Communities Fund the SE Regional Development Agency, Viridor Waste Management, Veolia Waste Management, East Sussex County Council, the Highway Agency and Active Lewes.

“We’re thrilled that the new hostel will now go ahead thanks to the additional Heritage Lottery Funds and the South Downs National Park,” said Jake Chalmers YHA Property Director. “We’re also grateful to the Greenbank Trust, Active Lewes and the owners, the Rees family, for their efforts in making this important new facility possible. The new world-class hostel will be a gateway to the new national park, adding to our network of hostels, and introducing a new generation of young people to the South Downs.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said: “We are delighted to see this project now come to fruition and look forward to the exciting transformation of this 13th century site. With a new, sustainable future within the heart of the South Downs National Park now secure, Itford Farm will be conserved for future generations so that everyone can enjoy its fascinating heritage.”

The new Youth Hostel’s facilities and prime location on the South Down Way National Trail and next to Southease Railway Station and the A26 Trunk Road will be the gateway to the UK’s newest National Park’ It is expected to be a hugely popular venue for members of the local community, schools and tourists. As well as accommodation YHA South Downs will also become a visitor centre for walkers and school parties.

Councillor Simon Kirby, from East Sussex County Council, said the conversion work would "provide a boost to tourism, benefiting local pubs, restaurants and shops, and securing a future for a richly historical building.”

Jake Chalmers added: “Youth Hostels play a vital role in many of the communities in which they are based, providing many local groups, such as toddlers and Scouts, with premises for their weekly meetings as well as onsite activities for children during term time and school holidays and YHA South Downs will be no exception.”

Peter Masters on behalf of Active Lewes said ‘ It’s been a long and difficult project but with the top up funding from the HLF and the new major investment by the YHA the project will at last secure all the community benefits that Active Lewes sought to achieve when we started the project over ten years ago.’

The development of Itford Farm is part of YHA’s capital investment programme in England and Wales. Over the past five years YHA has invested £19.5 million to create a network of world-class Youth Hostels, which include en suite bedrooms, honeymoon suites, licensed bars, restaurants and classrooms as part of their accommodation and facilities.

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