University defends decision to sell building in Ambleside to Premier Inn

University defends decision to sell to Ambleside building to Premier Inn

University defends decision to sell to Ambleside building to Premier Inn

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

OFFICIALS at the University of Cumbria have defended plans to sell one of its redundant buildings to Premier Inn.

Hilltop near The Struggle is being lined-up as a £5 million hotel and the sale is a 'crucial' plank of the University's circa £10 million investment plans for the Ambleside campus, officials said.

Yesterday MP Tim Farron called on the uni to abandon the sale to Premier Inn due to community fears about the impact of a new 64-bedroom property on Ambleside's existing B&Bs and guesthouses.

He said a petition co-ordinated by Ambleside councillor Heidi Halliday is circulating in the town and has already amassed over 2,500 signatures against the development.

But Janet Whitworth, chief operating officer for the university, told the Gazette: "We really need the money to reinvest in Ambleside and they (Whitbread) have come forward with it. 

"We have marketed Hilltop quitely widely and we haven't been inundated with interested buyers. There wasn't a queue."

She added: "I understand some of the angst in the community but we are only talking about a 64-bedroom Premier Inn against a total of 1500 bedspaces in Ambleside - it's a drop in the ocean really."

Earlier today, Mr Farron said he had written to the university asking them to sell the building to a housing trust instead.

Mr Farron said: “I am very careful on planning issues as they are a quasi-judicial matter, but I believe that this application will not help Ambleside. 

"I actually believe it will hurt many of the businesses and B&Bs in the town.  I think it’s not just a planning application, I think it’s a policy matter that will change the whole town. I think that they should have sold the property at market rate to a local housing trust.  This would have allowed us to build much needed affordable housing for local families.""

But Ms Whitworth said: "It's all very well saying sell it to a social housing trust but those sorts of organisations haven't come forward to buy it and we need some capital investment."

The University pointed out that as far back as 2011 as part of its consultation on the future of its estate with the Lake District National Park Authority, the possibility of Hilltop being used as a hotel was established so the proposal should not be considered a 'change of use'.

Mr Farron said: "I am mindful of the need for the university to gain capital receipts from under-used buildings.  But I also think that the university has an obligation to the town. 

“The university needs the town as much as the town needs them.  This application in my view will hurt Ambleside and they have not taken this into account. I hope they do in the days and weeks ahead.”

Ms Whitworth said the sale was dependent on planning permission being granted.


 

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:52pm Wed 16 Apr 14

tourer says...

Large empty properties in the local area dont do anyone any favours,so turning them into budget hotels is a excellent idea, so lets get all this negative clap trap out of the way and get all this head in the sand out of the way and embrace change, quit this not in my back yard attitude.........mov
e on folks....
Large empty properties in the local area dont do anyone any favours,so turning them into budget hotels is a excellent idea, so lets get all this negative clap trap out of the way and get all this head in the sand out of the way and embrace change, quit this not in my back yard attitude.........mov e on folks.... tourer
  • Score: 3

8:46pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Cas220 says...

So Tim Farron is against encouraging tourism in Ambleside now? All he wants is more ugly, cheaply (shoddily) built, misused 'affordable homes'.

Did any of the nimbies ever think that the hotel might just bring an EXTRA 130 tourists? If the small hotels can't compete then it is high time they 'upped their game'.
So Tim Farron is against encouraging tourism in Ambleside now? All he wants is more ugly, cheaply (shoddily) built, misused 'affordable homes'. Did any of the nimbies ever think that the hotel might just bring an EXTRA 130 tourists? If the small hotels can't compete then it is high time they 'upped their game'. Cas220
  • Score: -2

3:01pm Sun 20 Apr 14

1207 says...

Just what the Lakes needs instead of the overpriced and jumped up choice currently on offer.
Its cheaper to get a train to London and stop in a hotel there than visit the Lakes.99% of bussines in the lakes have one aim and that is to screw as much as possible out of the visitors and never mind the locals.
Just what the Lakes needs instead of the overpriced and jumped up choice currently on offer. Its cheaper to get a train to London and stop in a hotel there than visit the Lakes.99% of bussines in the lakes have one aim and that is to screw as much as possible out of the visitors and never mind the locals. 1207
  • Score: 7

7:40pm Mon 21 Apr 14

STATIONMAN says...

I can't think that any of the previous contributors know anything at all about Ambleside, if they do they are seriously misguided. The major issues with this project isn't that it is a budget hotel at all but that the development is right in the heart of the most historic area of the village where there is currently no commercial activity at all. The proposal includes demolishing a building that, thought not 'listed', is recognised by the National Park authority as having considerable architectural merit. In addition, the Supplementary Planning Document for the university specifically says this building is to be retained. The whole thing smacks of the university riding rough shod over the local community. It seems the University does not give a jot for Ambleside, all they want is to maximize the capital receipts from property that should have been retained for student accommodation or for local needs housing to help people that actually live here permanently. The university should never have been allowed to come back!
I can't think that any of the previous contributors know anything at all about Ambleside, if they do they are seriously misguided. The major issues with this project isn't that it is a budget hotel at all but that the development is right in the heart of the most historic area of the village where there is currently no commercial activity at all. The proposal includes demolishing a building that, thought not 'listed', is recognised by the National Park authority as having considerable architectural merit. In addition, the Supplementary Planning Document for the university specifically says this building is to be retained. The whole thing smacks of the university riding rough shod over the local community. It seems the University does not give a jot for Ambleside, all they want is to maximize the capital receipts from property that should have been retained for student accommodation or for local needs housing to help people that actually live here permanently. The university should never have been allowed to come back! STATIONMAN
  • Score: -3

11:39pm Mon 21 Apr 14

localresidentofmanyyears says...

Get your facts right STATIONMAN – No commercial activity in the area - are you forgetting the 30+ holiday cottages, Kirkstone Foot apartments , Chapel House Hotel, a garage repair workshop and a children’s nursery are all in very close proximity to the Hill Top site.
Get your facts right STATIONMAN – No commercial activity in the area - are you forgetting the 30+ holiday cottages, Kirkstone Foot apartments , Chapel House Hotel, a garage repair workshop and a children’s nursery are all in very close proximity to the Hill Top site. localresidentofmanyyears
  • Score: 1

1:38am Tue 22 Apr 14

Fishing mad says...

People say the uni is just looking to make as much money as possible from the sale just the same attitude as putting parking meters in the village greed greed greed so at least with a cheap hotel the people staying will be able to afford to pay for parking people always argue for affordable housing when did we last get any
People say the uni is just looking to make as much money as possible from the sale just the same attitude as putting parking meters in the village greed greed greed so at least with a cheap hotel the people staying will be able to afford to pay for parking people always argue for affordable housing when did we last get any Fishing mad
  • Score: -3

7:57am Tue 22 Apr 14

ab oatman says...

Stationman, just about every comment posted in relation to this development (in this article and others) declaring a view against the hotel have clearly stated that the major issue is the idea of a budget hotel in Ambleside. You are the first person to claim that there shooulkd be no commercial activity in the area. Your claim that this is the major issue is patently incorrect.
Are guesthouses and holiday lets not commercial activity? Who decides that a bed & breakfast is permissible and somehow more worthy than a chain hotel?
Look at 2 examples - The Wakefield Arms in Kendal, a building totally in keeping with its surroundings and the guesthouse between Bowness & Windermere with its huge neon lit chrome fountain!
The idea that B&B's and guesthouses are some kind of charming, local cottage industry and the big chains a sort of evil conglomerate intent on ruining the Lake District is seriously outdated. Build this hotel and welcome the extra 100+ visitors it will bring each night spending money in the town and helping keep the area alive.
Stationman, just about every comment posted in relation to this development (in this article and others) declaring a view against the hotel have clearly stated that the major issue is the idea of a budget hotel in Ambleside. You are the first person to claim that there shooulkd be no commercial activity in the area. Your claim that this is the major issue is patently incorrect. Are guesthouses and holiday lets not commercial activity? Who decides that a bed & breakfast is permissible and somehow more worthy than a chain hotel? Look at 2 examples - The Wakefield Arms in Kendal, a building totally in keeping with its surroundings and the guesthouse between Bowness & Windermere with its huge neon lit chrome fountain! The idea that B&B's and guesthouses are some kind of charming, local cottage industry and the big chains a sort of evil conglomerate intent on ruining the Lake District is seriously outdated. Build this hotel and welcome the extra 100+ visitors it will bring each night spending money in the town and helping keep the area alive. ab oatman
  • Score: 5

10:54am Wed 23 Apr 14

PeterRogerson says...

Think its a great idea, beats being ripped off in overpriced B&B's. Rooms in premier Inns are always great, breakfasts excellent. If it then brings in extra visitors to the area then even better. And so what if the University wants to get as much money for the building as possible...wouldn't we all?
Think its a great idea, beats being ripped off in overpriced B&B's. Rooms in premier Inns are always great, breakfasts excellent. If it then brings in extra visitors to the area then even better. And so what if the University wants to get as much money for the building as possible...wouldn't we all? PeterRogerson
  • Score: -2

1:34pm Wed 23 Apr 14

David Evans says...

It's interesting to see people talk about 'good' Budget Hotels against 'overpriced' B&Bs. Today I can book a single room In a B&B in Ambleside for £33. Premier Inn in Kendal - £75.

Some people need to look at a few facts.
It's interesting to see people talk about 'good' Budget Hotels against 'overpriced' B&Bs. Today I can book a single room In a B&B in Ambleside for £33. Premier Inn in Kendal - £75. Some people need to look at a few facts. David Evans
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree