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Windermere businessman plans family-friendly hostel in town
A WINDERMERE businessman has sought to reassure hoteliers in the town that his planned hostel would not be a magnet for stag and hen parties.
Mike Hesford, whose carpet business has been at Church Street for the last 25 years, said a shift to accommodation was the only viable option after suffering a retail slump.
But neighbouring hoteliers have reacted with alarm to the proposed low-cost accommodation with 20 rooms, including some with bunk beds.
Debbie Lupton, of Cambridge House Guest House on Oak Street, is one of many to register their concerns with Lake District National Park Authority planners, and one of 50 who attended a meeting at the Grey Walls Hotel to discuss the issue.
“Hen and stag parties all dressed up are not what we want for the area,” she said. “It is a very strong thing in Windermere, and Bowness to an extent, not to take single night bookings. There is a good potential to open up a market we don’t want here.
“Windermere is about Victorian properties, walkers, families, and couples on romantic weekends; this is not the message a bunk house sends out.
“I sympathise in the fact they are trying to diversify and generate business, but the implications are massive.”
James Tasker, manager at the Lamplighter Dining Rooms at Windermere’s High Street, said he had concerns about flooding and overloading the sewage system in the area.
“My other point of concern is parking,” he said. “With the best will in the world, even if he is marketing the hostel to passengers coming off the train, you can’t control who comes in cars.”
But Mr Hesford said he would do what he could to stop hen and stag parties coming to the hostel if planning permission was granted.
"It is not going to be a ‘bunk house’ though some bunk bed accommodation will be on offer as an alternative to our ensuite rooms,” he said. “We would be catering for single walkers, school parties and youth groups.”
He said the business was in an impossible position with the impact of competitors and a general retail decline.
“I wish we could do something about the economy but unfortunately it isn't great for retail either. We are aiming to provide something that is not available in the area at the moment.
“Changing from a shop to accommodation will reduce traffic as there would be no more lorries blocking the roads for unloading and our main target will be the people arriving by train and bus. We are across the road from both stations.
“I am more than happy to discuss any concerns and will do what I can to make sure no one suffers because of our proposal; it is in our best interests to look after the area.”