Coldingham community fails in bid to purchase youth hostel

COMMUNITY efforts to buy Coldingham Youth Hostel and keep it running as a low budget tourism facility were thwarted when they failed to secure lottery funding to help them purchase the building, and now there are plans to turn it into two houses and two flats.

Cold Sands Ltd bought the property, The Mount, earlier this year and last week submitted a planning application to Scottish Borders Council for permission for a change of use and alterations to change the former youth hostel in housing units, plus erect two garages.

The Mount is an imposing 1890s country house overlooking Coldingham Bay and was originally built as a private house. It was used briefly as a private hotel and was a hospital/nursing home during World War 1.

After that it became a convalescent home and since the 1940s was used as a youth hostel until it was closed by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association in October 2008.

When the SYHA announced their plans in 2007 to close the hostel it spurred local residents into action and they formed Coldingham Sands Community Company under Community Right to Buy legislation and were given time by Scottish Ministers to find the funding to buy it and keep it going as a hostel.

It was estimated that 170,000 would be needed to bring it up to an acceptable standard and 300,000 of investment was required to reach the standard of accommodation expected by most visitors.

Grant funding to purchase the building for 450,000 and carry out major refurbishment was applied for, but the business plan was not considered viable by funders and last summer The Mount was put on the open market.

Cold Sands Ltd bought it from SYHA in January this year and have now produced plans for its conversion back to private residential units.

Emphasising the reasons for opting for the change of use the developers say in their application: "The extensive range of local 'budget' accommodation, the failed bid by the community company and examination of the reasons behind the closure of the youth hostel by SYHA demonstrate that a hostel at this location would not be viable.

"Residential use is a viable use which meets with planning policy and ensures that the building is not allowed to deteriorate further, which would have ever increasing cost implications on its restoration and result in there being a negative visual impact within the AGLV (Area of Great Landscape Value)."