Historic farm in Southease to be a £5m hostel

Lewes MP Norman Baker visited the £5m new Youth Hostel and visitor centre on Friday January 31, which is opening in Southease.

Due to be launched this spring, the project has involved the transformation of a 13th century farm.

Norman Baker at Southdowns Youth Hostel, Southease''Lisa Venter (YHA), NB, Caroline While (Chief exec YHA)

Norman Baker at Southdowns Youth Hostel, Southease''Lisa Venter (YHA), NB, Caroline While (Chief exec YHA)

Mr Baker donned a hard hat and high visibility jacket to admire the progress which has been made at Itford Farm, just off the A26.

With further money from the Heritage Lottery Fund made available in December, the national youth hostelling charity YHA was given the green light to complete the project at the gateway of the South Downs National Park.

It was conceived and progressed by Active Lewes, a Lewes-based not-for-profit organisation, transforming the ancient farm buildings into a 68-bed Youth Hostel, café and visitor centre to 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 scheme to proceed.

In addition to YHA and the Heritage Lottery Fund, other significant contributions have come from the South Downs National Park Sustainable Communities Fund, the South East Regional Development Agency, Viridor Waste Management, Veolia Waste Management, East Sussex County Council, the Highways Agency and Active Lewes.

Jake Chalmers, YHA property director, said: “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.”

MP Simon Kirby 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.”

Find out more about the Youth Hostel Association at http://www.yha.org.uk/