19 February 2014

Hotel building set to become YHA hostel

Brighton could once again have a Youth Hostel after councillors agreed to change the use of an historic hotel near Brighton seafront.

The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) secured planning permission this afternoon (February 19 2014) to turn the former 51-room Royal York Hotel, on the Old Steine into a 180-bed Youth Hostel. 

The YHA have told the council they intend to spend half a million pounds on renovations.  The new use would, they say, increase overnight stays by almost 70 per cent compared with the previous operation. 

It would provide a variety of room types – some sleeping four or six in bunk beds; plus twin or double rooms.  All existing en-suite rooms would be retained. 

No internal alterations are planned.  A planning officers’ report said the ground-floor restaurant would be open to all members of the public, not just guests.

The YHA would be required to pay £13,000 towards transport improvements, including at nearby Pool Valley Coach Station.

The Grade II listed building, dating back to the late 1700s, also has nine residential apartments for letting.

The city has been without a YHA hostel since 2007 when the one at Patcham Place closed.

Chair of the planning committee Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty said: ““We welcomed this application as it fills a much-loved and listed hotel building otherwise likely to become vacant. It will be very good to have a YHA hostel in our city once again.  They’re well-managed with good facilities for a range of clientele and ages.  We think it’ll be really popular, adding to the city’s edge .”

The hotel’s owners Max Hotels is currently in administration.  Hotel consultants have said the building is too small to attract a chain operator and too large for an individual.

Although the city council has granted planning permission, implementing the consent is a matter for YHA.

Background:  Source -  The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Rose Collis…

Parts of the building date back to the late 1700s.  With adjoining properties, it became the Royal York Hotel in 1819, named after the Duke of York, the Prince Regent’s brother.

Famous guests have included the Duke of Wellington and Benjamin Disraeli.  In 1861 Charles Dickens read excerpts of David Copperfield there.

Brighton Corporation bought the building between the wars and it was still in use as council offices as Royal York Buildings until around 2003. It reopened as the Radisson Blu Hotel in 2006.