Lewes District Council Leader Rob Blackman has revealed more details about his vision for Lewes House, the former council offices.
He said there are a number of options on the table, but the favoured one is to create a privately run hotel which is staffed by apprentices, students and under-graduates learning the hotel trade.
“The idea would be to provide a fantastic new hotel in the town which is also acts as a training centre that lets young people get real-life experience of what working in the hotel trade is like,” said Cllr Blackman.
“We took inspiration for this idea from a wide range of sources, but chiefly from a similar project which is underway in Kent where a ‘student hotel’ is being created from a disused building that was previously occupied by East Kent College.
“Three of the key aims of Lewes District Council are to create jobs, attract more tourists and provide a sustainable income for the authority. And we believe that this learning hotel idea brings about all three at once.”
Cllr Blackman stressed that the council would retain ownership of both Lewes House and its neighbour, School Hill House, which would be likely to form part of the hotel infrastructure.
“One thing is for certain – we’re not selling it,” he said. “The idea is to create a hotel business that employs people, provides Lewes with a much-needed service and continually trains young people while the hotel’s operator pays rent to the authority which provides a much needed income stream.”
Cllr Blackman stressed that any final decision would follow public consultation and analysis of any other viable options.
The building, which dates from the early 18th century, has never been open to the public although adjacent Thebes was used for some years as an art gallery.