Hostel plan revealed for Southwold

A SEASIDE resort in north Suffolk has been earmarked for a £400,000 youth hostel, it has been revealed.The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is looking to create a 40-bed hostel in the Southwold area, and is now looking for a suitable location.

A SEASIDE resort in north Suffolk has been earmarked for a £400,000 youth hostel, it has been revealed.

The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is looking to create a 40-bed hostel in the Southwold area, and is now looking for a suitable location.

People in the town welcomed the news last night, and there is a belief it could bring more business to the area.

The YHA believes the new hostel would link up well with the one at Blaxhall using either the cycle path around the Sandlings area or the Heritage Coast Path.

The Association has been inspired by a converted church hall hostel in Wells-next-the-sea which completes a circle of youth hostels on the north Norfolk coast.

David Nichols, the Ely-based YHA regional manager for the East, said: "Wells and Southwold have a lot in common - they are nice fishing towns come beach resorts and will attract customers who don't go to the Yarmouths or Felixstowes, but are more into bird watching and walking.

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"Southwold is a place where there is a demand and the hostel could be used for educational school visits or have field study facilities.

"Youth hostels are year-round businesses and can keep shops and businesses going."

Stephan Cornell, chairman of the Southwold and district Chamber of Trade and Commerce, welcomed the idea from a business point of view but did voice concerns about its future use.

He said: "I do have difficulties with kids hanging around street corners with nothing to do. But I think the problem would come if it became a residential hostel for the homeless."

Deputy mayor John Miller said: "We have boarding houses, hotels, why not a youth hostel?"

Town mayor Sue Allen said: "It would be lovely to have one."

However, all three residents spoke of the major problem this project would face - finding a suitable property in the seaside town which is famous for its conservation policy and high house prices.

But Mr Nichols said the YHA was not particularly interested in ordinary houses and would consider looking for a suitable place as far inland as Blythburgh.

"Larger spaces such as redundant schools, chapels or farms lend themselves better to conversion to our kind of project and allow us to incorporate the latest technology to reduce our impact on the environment," he said.

The 32-bed hostel in Wells cost around £400,000 and Mr Nichols said the YHA would have to go into partnership with a local organisation and apply for European funding.

Anyone who knows of a suitable building that could be converted into a hostel can contact Mr Nichols on 01353 649545.

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