The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) has been given planning permission to turn a hotel near Brighton seafront into a youth hostel.
Royal York Buildings, in Old Steine, Brighton, was turned into a hotel six years ago having previously housed offices, including the Brighton Register Office.
A report to the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee said: “The existing hotel occupies the lower ground, ground, first, second and third-floor levels, providing 51 bedrooms.
“In addition a self-contained flat is located at ground-floor level with a further eight residential apartments of accommodation on the fourth/mezzanine floor available to let on a flexible basis.
“The hotel opened in 2008 by Max Hotels. Max Hotels agreed a franchise with internal Hotel Group Rezidor (now Carlsonn Rezidor) from 2009 to 2011, with the hotel known as ‘Radisson Blu’.
“Max Hotels is now in administration and as a result permission is sought to convert the hotel to a youth hostel with the provision of 180 bed spaces and the retention of the nine apartments mentioned above.
“As with the current hotel, the existing ground floor restaurant would remain open to all members of the public, not just guests.
“The building is located within the city’s hotel core zone. Policy SR15 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan relates to the protection of hotels.
“This policy states that the change of use of hotels, guest house and self-catering holiday accommodation in the ‘core area’ of the city will not be permitted unless clear evidence is provided to demonstrate that a hotel/guesthouse or self-catering is no longer viable for such use and alternative types of holiday accommodation suitable for the property (including dual uses or out of season times) are not viable.
“Since submission of the application a copy of the administrators’ report has also been submitted to support the purposed change of use to a youth hostel.
“The report sets out that
- the building has only been operating as a hotel since the summer of 2008, the hotel was financed at £7.875 million against a value of £10.5 million
- the administrator recommends selling the hotel for as low as £5 million
- the hotel was only breaking even by avoiding paying certain costs, for example, until enforcement action was taken by Brighton and Hove City Council in June 2012 rates were outstanding (£18,000) and wages were not being paid to staff
- paper profits consistently fell from the period 1 July 2008 to 30 December 2012 to the period 1 May 2011 to 31 May 2012 and the business effectively ran at a loss
- attempts have been made to up-grade and reposition the hotel in the market such as the franchise agreement with Radisson
“The administrators do not consider that the hotel can successfully be operated as a going concern.
“Although it is acknowledged that limited marketing information has been submitted as part of the application, to strictly comply with policies SR15 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan and CP6 of the City Plan, overall it is considered that the proposed change of use to a hostel, which would provide alternative holiday accommodation, is acceptable and is an appropriate alternative use for the site, which would help to preserve the character and appearance of the listed building.
“Approval is therefore recommended.”
The YHA is expected to pay the council more than £13,000 under a “section 106 agreement” to offset the negative effects of the application.
Such agreements are made under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Councillor Ian Davey urged that some of the section 106 money be spent on toilets for coach passengers arriving in neighbouring Pool Valley.
He said: “Toilets are a very important part of transport infrastructure.”
Councillor Mike Jones said: “This is a really good use of the building.”
Councillor Carol Theobald criticised Max Hotels saying that it was “not very successful”. She added: “They closed down the Lansdowne and they’ve closed down this one.”
The Lansdowne Place Hotel – formerly the Dudley – in Hove stopped trading on New Year’s Day last year.
She also said that the YHA had left Patcham Place – the home of its last youth hostel in Brighton – in a poor state when it moved out in 2007.
Councillor Graham Cox said: “I had a great time as a teenager through the YHA. It is, as Councillor Jones said, a wonderful charitable organisation.
“It’s been an anomaly since Patcham Place closed that we don’t have a youth hostel. I think it’s great that we’ve got this and a real asset to the city.”
Councillor Ben Duncan said that it would provide cheap accommodation for people walking the South Downs Way.
“It will make Brighton so much more of an option and bring more people here.”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “By giving it this consent, hopefully we’ll see a phoenix rise from the ashes. It will be a very good thing for the city.”
The application was granted with conditions at the Planning Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.