50-bedroomed hotel plan for former Ambleside school

The school site

The school site

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

A FORMER grammar school in one of the Lake District’s busiest towns could be converted into a luxury hotel.

Property developers Springbourne Homes revealed this week they had bought the former Kelsick School on Stockghyll Lane in Ambleside.

The new ‘world-class’ 50-bedroomed hotel will feature a spa and a culinary school that developers hope will be fronted by a number of celebrity chefs.

Recently on the market for £1million, Kelsick School and Kelsick House covers 16,145sq ft. They are set in more than two acres of grounds overlooking the town.

They have been sold by the University of Cumbria who said the cash will be pumped into the regeneration of the previously mothballed Ambleside campus.

But the project has been given the thumbs down by campaign group Future Ambleside which was set up to fight plans by budget hotel chain Premier Inn opening a 64-bedroomed in the town.

The group has now waded into the latest proposal saying the new hotel would lead to bankruptcy for some of the town’s existing B&Bs and guesthouses, and also put jobs in jeopardy at the local services they use.

“There are currently just under 500 hotel and B&B spaces in the village,” said Fiona Howarth, one of the founding members of the group.

“To increase this capacity by at least 25 per cent with these two hotels will inevitably put all existing hotels and B&Bs at risk of bankruptcy.”

However Adrian Burr, managing director of the Nuneaton-based developers, disagreed.

He told the Gazette the ‘high-end’ nature of the hotel would attract more visitors, rather than draw business away from B&Bs.

“I understand the concerns about Premier Inn but we are a totally different offering,” said Mr Burr, who revealed there were two options on the table. One was to knock down the building and create a 21st century hotel from scratch, he said.

“But the preferred option is to retain and extend the current buildings,” added Mr Burr.

He said the company was in negotiations with a number of hotel operators and hoped a planning application would be submitted in September.

Stephen Miller, director of estates at the university, said there was limited interest in Kelsick.

He said it was working with the Lake District National Park Authority to ‘achieve best value from any surplus estate’.

“As a charity, it is essential that the university gets the best market value for its surplus estate to meet its charitable objectives, and resource from the disposal of any surplus properties, including Kelsick, will be reinvested back into the Scale How campus,” he said.

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Tony Blaney, chairman of the Lakes Hospitality Association, which has more than 200 members in the South Lakes, said if the operator was a large chain it would ‘dilute the Lake District brand’.

“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual hotels and guest houses offering a unique visitor experience. Big chains don’t offer that.”

But he added: “A new hotel coming to the area is business. Nobody likes competition but everybody has the right to trade. I don’t think we should discourage that.

“B&Bs have nothing to fear because their standard is incredibly high.”

Ian Stephens, Cumbria Tourism’s managing director, said it ‘illustrates the growing business confidence and market growth opportunities in the tourism sector.’

Mr Stephens added: “We would be pressing for high quality standards in terms of design, sustainability, customer service and will encourage the operators to engage with the local community and get involved in collaborative marketing activities.”

Comments (14)

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4:49pm Thu 5 Jun 14

Lakesbloke says...

Maybe the LDNPA should invade it and also use Brockhole rather than "ruling" from oustide the National Park. at least then they'd experience the results of their policies the same as the inhabitants of their domain!
Maybe the LDNPA should invade it and also use Brockhole rather than "ruling" from oustide the National Park. at least then they'd experience the results of their policies the same as the inhabitants of their domain! Lakesbloke
  • Score: 4

6:43pm Thu 5 Jun 14

1207 says...

Another overpriced top end Hotel just what the Lakes needs to cater for the influx of visitors to Sainburys.
Another overpriced top end Hotel just what the Lakes needs to cater for the influx of visitors to Sainburys. 1207
  • Score: 6

7:05pm Thu 5 Jun 14

Justthinking says...

Good god here we go again. Don't want a cheap chain, don't want high end hotels. Why don't we all let these people decide what they would like in their precious little areas and lets not budge from that plan. Maybe in a few years time when the rest of the world has moved on and the lakes are still living in the past lessons will be learnt.
I for one think a spa hotel in Ambleside would be wonderful and attract a total different set of customers. If your looking for a high end spa weekend with friends that is what your looking for not a B & B so why this hotel would cause such mass bankruptcy to them is beyond me.
I love Ambleside and visit regularly but am totally fed up with every little thing that is planned for the town there is mass protest against it.
Good god here we go again. Don't want a cheap chain, don't want high end hotels. Why don't we all let these people decide what they would like in their precious little areas and lets not budge from that plan. Maybe in a few years time when the rest of the world has moved on and the lakes are still living in the past lessons will be learnt. I for one think a spa hotel in Ambleside would be wonderful and attract a total different set of customers. If your looking for a high end spa weekend with friends that is what your looking for not a B & B so why this hotel would cause such mass bankruptcy to them is beyond me. I love Ambleside and visit regularly but am totally fed up with every little thing that is planned for the town there is mass protest against it. Justthinking
  • Score: -21

8:03pm Thu 5 Jun 14

ambleside63 says...

As a lady who grew up in Ambleside and still have family living there , it's ok for all but a few shops to sell walking gear!!! it's purely for tourists now a days not the local community, so what's wrong with a new high end hotel some people like too stay in them not a b&b , also premier inn would make more people stay over night so more money being spent in local pubs and restaurants as its cheap clean value for money hotel chain, so totally disagree it will bankrupt b&b,s ,look at the big picture stop living in the past.
As a lady who grew up in Ambleside and still have family living there , it's ok for all but a few shops to sell walking gear!!! it's purely for tourists now a days not the local community, so what's wrong with a new high end hotel some people like too stay in them not a b&b , also premier inn would make more people stay over night so more money being spent in local pubs and restaurants as its cheap clean value for money hotel chain, so totally disagree it will bankrupt b&b,s ,look at the big picture stop living in the past. ambleside63
  • Score: -19

9:53pm Thu 5 Jun 14

Helvellyn55 says...

If visitors prefer to stay in up market hotels or the rooms of decent budget chains does it not tell Future Ambleside hat the present B and Bs are scruffy, old fashioned and not wanted, Or do they want to force visitors into keeping sub standard businesses - or desert the town.

They need to realise that this is the twenty first century and catering for the golden goose's needs is paramount?
If visitors prefer to stay in up market hotels or the rooms of decent budget chains does it not tell Future Ambleside hat the present B and Bs are scruffy, old fashioned and not wanted, Or do they want to force visitors into keeping sub standard businesses - or desert the town. They need to realise that this is the twenty first century and catering for the golden goose's needs is paramount? Helvellyn55
  • Score: -23

10:16pm Thu 5 Jun 14

well_informed says...

Ambleside has all the accommodation its infrastructure can support, and for a small town with a struggling economy it is vital that money remains in the area rather than be poured into the vault of the corporation that can already afford to stroll in and buy up property like this.

Big hotels WILL hurt Ambleside, and anyone contesting this will have taken leave of either their judgement, their senses, or both.
Ambleside has all the accommodation its infrastructure can support, and for a small town with a struggling economy it is vital that money remains in the area rather than be poured into the vault of the corporation that can already afford to stroll in and buy up property like this. Big hotels WILL hurt Ambleside, and anyone contesting this will have taken leave of either their judgement, their senses, or both. well_informed
  • Score: 16

2:01pm Fri 6 Jun 14

magical trevor says...

Get a grip people. This is forward thinking development. What a bunch of NIMBYs. If you had it your way, there'd be no cars, no supermarkets, no foreigners, no charity shops, no betting shops.....You're all so stuck in the mud. Shocking attitudes.
Get a grip people. This is forward thinking development. What a bunch of NIMBYs. If you had it your way, there'd be no cars, no supermarkets, no foreigners, no charity shops, no betting shops.....You're all so stuck in the mud. Shocking attitudes. magical trevor
  • Score: -27

9:05pm Sat 7 Jun 14

tourer says...

people of ambleside ,stop and think for once,stop moaning about heathly cycle paths, budget hotels , clean fresh supermarkets, etc, try to embrace change create jobs for all and try to embrace visitors from around the globe..god bless you all....
people of ambleside ,stop and think for once,stop moaning about heathly cycle paths, budget hotels , clean fresh supermarkets, etc, try to embrace change create jobs for all and try to embrace visitors from around the globe..god bless you all.... tourer
  • Score: -22

11:29pm Sat 7 Jun 14

well_informed says...

tourer wrote:
people of ambleside ,stop and think for once,stop moaning about heathly cycle paths, budget hotels , clean fresh supermarkets, etc, try to embrace change create jobs for all and try to embrace visitors from around the globe..god bless you all....
I think you'll find, tourer, that we HAVE stopped, and we HAVE thought. Please take the time to read through the following:

Ambleside has many more low-pay jobs than it has workers for - this is an indisputable fact - and no big hotel is suddenly going to surprise us with positions for academics or bring similar fruitful change to the current employment situation. No, they will only create more jobs for cleaners, waiters, kitchen and bar staff - the exact positions that the existing establishments are fighting to fill as it is.

Above all, Ambleside needs affordable housing before we can even begin fill the many positions that are vacant today, and more of the same job vacancies piled on top would only make matters worse. Affordable housing is what we need, and that is what those big, empty buildings should be used for. THAT would be progress, and THAT would be extremely welcome change!

The only kind of development we resist is the kind that will inevitably kill this town and make it unattractive for residents and tourists alike - so you see, we're really fighting FOR you, and for the myriads of visitors already embraced here on a yearly basis.

You might ask:

Q: Why DO big hotels (or a supermarket for that matter) hurt Ambleside?
A: Because the profits they make aren't re-invested in the community - they go to the owners and shareholders, and they don't spend their money here.

Q: Why are small shops and guesthouses good for Ambleside?
A: Because the profits remain in the community - the owners spend their money where they make them, and the local economy remains stable.

Without sufficient re-investments and taxes generated in this area there won't be any reason for the visitors to come - Ambleside would only see a steady decline and pitiful death, and the big and fancy (and probably very, very nice) hotel would resemble Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe from which you could observe the bitter end over a lobster dinner.

Worth moaning about? You bet it bloody is!
[quote][p][bold]tourer[/bold] wrote: people of ambleside ,stop and think for once,stop moaning about heathly cycle paths, budget hotels , clean fresh supermarkets, etc, try to embrace change create jobs for all and try to embrace visitors from around the globe..god bless you all....[/p][/quote]I think you'll find, tourer, that we HAVE stopped, and we HAVE thought. Please take the time to read through the following: Ambleside has many more low-pay jobs than it has workers for - this is an indisputable fact - and no big hotel is suddenly going to surprise us with positions for academics or bring similar fruitful change to the current employment situation. No, they will only create more jobs for cleaners, waiters, kitchen and bar staff - the exact positions that the existing establishments are fighting to fill as it is. Above all, Ambleside needs affordable housing before we can even begin fill the many positions that are vacant today, and more of the same job vacancies piled on top would only make matters worse. Affordable housing is what we need, and that is what those big, empty buildings should be used for. THAT would be progress, and THAT would be extremely welcome change! The only kind of development we resist is the kind that will inevitably kill this town and make it unattractive for residents and tourists alike - so you see, we're really fighting FOR you, and for the myriads of visitors already embraced here on a yearly basis. You might ask: Q: Why DO big hotels (or a supermarket for that matter) hurt Ambleside? A: Because the profits they make aren't re-invested in the community - they go to the owners and shareholders, and they don't spend their money here. Q: Why are small shops and guesthouses good for Ambleside? A: Because the profits remain in the community - the owners spend their money where they make them, and the local economy remains stable. Without sufficient re-investments and taxes generated in this area there won't be any reason for the visitors to come - Ambleside would only see a steady decline and pitiful death, and the big and fancy (and probably very, very nice) hotel would resemble Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe from which you could observe the bitter end over a lobster dinner. Worth moaning about? You bet it bloody is! well_informed
  • Score: 32

11:37pm Sat 7 Jun 14

Helen0402 says...

It makes me laugh at some of the comments on here. It is bad enough to encourage people to stay at your hotel when the vast majority of people are looking for the next best deal. You just have to look on Groupon, Wowcher and other voucher sites to see the level of competition in the Lake District. There are a minority who will pay the full rate for a room now so I can understand why Ambleside hoteliers who are probably already struggling because of the said deals are hesitant in this development. A big corporate chain can withstand these deals compared to a privately owned B&B as they have the purchasing power to get excellent deals from major suppliers. I don't think this has anything to do with being 'old fashioned' just independent hoteliers worried about their businesses.
It makes me laugh at some of the comments on here. It is bad enough to encourage people to stay at your hotel when the vast majority of people are looking for the next best deal. You just have to look on Groupon, Wowcher and other voucher sites to see the level of competition in the Lake District. There are a minority who will pay the full rate for a room now so I can understand why Ambleside hoteliers who are probably already struggling because of the said deals are hesitant in this development. A big corporate chain can withstand these deals compared to a privately owned B&B as they have the purchasing power to get excellent deals from major suppliers. I don't think this has anything to do with being 'old fashioned' just independent hoteliers worried about their businesses. Helen0402
  • Score: 16

11:55pm Sat 7 Jun 14

well_informed says...

Helen0402 wrote:
It makes me laugh at some of the comments on here. It is bad enough to encourage people to stay at your hotel when the vast majority of people are looking for the next best deal. You just have to look on Groupon, Wowcher and other voucher sites to see the level of competition in the Lake District. There are a minority who will pay the full rate for a room now so I can understand why Ambleside hoteliers who are probably already struggling because of the said deals are hesitant in this development. A big corporate chain can withstand these deals compared to a privately owned B&B as they have the purchasing power to get excellent deals from major suppliers. I don't think this has anything to do with being 'old fashioned' just independent hoteliers worried about their businesses.
Thank you, Helen. Your voice of sense and reason is most welcome amongst the prevailing attitude of "shut up, eat your medicine, and wreck your town to provide us with more and cheaper accommodation".
[quote][p][bold]Helen0402[/bold] wrote: It makes me laugh at some of the comments on here. It is bad enough to encourage people to stay at your hotel when the vast majority of people are looking for the next best deal. You just have to look on Groupon, Wowcher and other voucher sites to see the level of competition in the Lake District. There are a minority who will pay the full rate for a room now so I can understand why Ambleside hoteliers who are probably already struggling because of the said deals are hesitant in this development. A big corporate chain can withstand these deals compared to a privately owned B&B as they have the purchasing power to get excellent deals from major suppliers. I don't think this has anything to do with being 'old fashioned' just independent hoteliers worried about their businesses.[/p][/quote]Thank you, Helen. Your voice of sense and reason is most welcome amongst the prevailing attitude of "shut up, eat your medicine, and wreck your town to provide us with more and cheaper accommodation". well_informed
  • Score: 13

8:48pm Wed 11 Jun 14

magical trevor says...

Pull your heads out of the sand.
Pull your heads out of the sand. magical trevor
  • Score: -10

9:34pm Wed 18 Jun 14

well_informed says...

magical trevor wrote:
Pull your heads out of the sand.
Pull a rabbit out of your hat
[quote][p][bold]magical trevor[/bold] wrote: Pull your heads out of the sand.[/p][/quote]Pull a rabbit out of your hat well_informed
  • Score: 12

7:24pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Pipe-dreamer says...

It seems that most arguments in favour of this idiotic idea are along the lines of 'stop living in the past' or '
Being a young person living in the lakes, I'd like to point out that it is very much NOT living in the past - it's for the future of this town that we are opposing the hotel! Not because it will spoil our view, and certainly not because of any misled attempt to hold on to being a 'quaint little rural community' - the people who believe that seem mostly to be the tourists!

The anger over this is not just for this one insatnce - it's the cumulative frustration of everyone young person who knows that to stay in the place they were born will cost them a lifetime of cleaningup other people's mess or telling people the best walking boot to buy in return for a wage they can't live off, it's the frustration of everyone whose been forced to leave, or had most of their friends leave the area because they didn't have anywhere to live whilst half the family-size homes on their street lay empty for 11 months while the owners were in their 1st homes.
There isn't much future for ayone growing up in Ambleside now - you won't find yourself a house for a long, long time. You'll have to work almost every day just to keep hold of a flat (and that's if you're lucky enough to have a job during the Winter when everyone's gone home.) Any dreams of doing anything interesting with your career? Forget it, you'll have to leave if you want that.

What Ambleside needs is NOT another load of low-paid, unskilled seasonal jobs. There's more of them than there are workers already. What we need is skilled, diverse work, and there's plenty of room for it! Primary and secondary employment needs boosting across the hole country, so why not 'bring jobs to the area' in agriculture, or quarrying? Why not use our empty buildings for something new and innovative rather than an new way for tight-fisted tourists to spend even less money in order to leave their orange peelings and used bogroll out on the hill?
We're not sticking our heads in the sand or living in the past, we're trying to make sure we still have a future.
It seems that most arguments in favour of this idiotic idea are along the lines of 'stop living in the past' or ' Being a young person living in the lakes, I'd like to point out that it is very much NOT living in the past - it's for the future of this town that we are opposing the hotel! Not because it will spoil our view, and certainly not because of any misled attempt to hold on to being a 'quaint little rural community' - the people who believe that seem mostly to be the tourists! The anger over this is not just for this one insatnce - it's the cumulative frustration of everyone young person who knows that to stay in the place they were born will cost them a lifetime of cleaningup other people's mess or telling people the best walking boot to buy in return for a wage they can't live off, it's the frustration of everyone whose been forced to leave, or had most of their friends leave the area because they didn't have anywhere to live whilst half the family-size homes on their street lay empty for 11 months while the owners were in their 1st homes. There isn't much future for ayone growing up in Ambleside now - you won't find yourself a house for a long, long time. You'll have to work almost every day just to keep hold of a flat (and that's if you're lucky enough to have a job during the Winter when everyone's gone home.) Any dreams of doing anything interesting with your career? Forget it, you'll have to leave if you want that. What Ambleside needs is NOT another load of low-paid, unskilled seasonal jobs. There's more of them than there are workers already. What we need is skilled, diverse work, and there's plenty of room for it! Primary and secondary employment needs boosting across the hole country, so why not 'bring jobs to the area' in agriculture, or quarrying? Why not use our empty buildings for something new and innovative rather than an new way for tight-fisted tourists to spend even less money in order to leave their orange peelings and used bogroll out on the hill? We're not sticking our heads in the sand or living in the past, we're trying to make sure we still have a future. Pipe-dreamer
  • Score: 10

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