Youth hostel will resist an attempted move to new site

Youth hostel team members Chris Sciberras and Isabelle Kuematukanga at Oxford’s Youth Hostel; inset, councillor Susannah Pressell

Youth hostel team members Chris Sciberras and Isabelle Kuematukanga at Oxford’s Youth Hostel; inset, councillor Susannah Pressell

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

A YOUTH hostel has said it will “resist moving as long as possible” after it was earmarked for demolition in the Oxford train station redevelopment plans.

Last week, Oxford City Council released details of the £75m scheme for the new station.

The plans revealed the YHA Youth Hostel in Botley Road would need to be demolished to make way for the upgrade.

The YHA has said it is in talks with the city council about a possible relocation, but no firm plans have been put forward yet.

Chief executive Caroline White said: “We want to engage with the planning board so that they find an alternative site within the station redevelopment and which is as near to the station as possible.

“I would much rather do that by negotiation and talks, obviously, but if they compulsory purchase the site we will resist for as long as we can.”

She added: “If they go down the compulsory purchase route it will be a significant investment for them and they will have to pay us compensation to re-invest for a new hostel for us.”

The YHA owns the building on Botley Road. Mrs White said she hoped a site within walking distance of the station would be found, and 30,000 sq ft would be needed.

It currently employs 35 people.

Mrs White added: “The city council has been initially understanding of what we need and that a retaining a hostel is very important.

“But what we haven’t got yet is a much firmer commitment from all the parties to this redevelopment to providing a new hostel.

“We have been here 80 years and we would like to stay for another 80.”

Hostel manager Nick Clements said: “We really want to keep a Youth Hostel in Oxford.

“We offer a fantastic, affordable, place for young people to stay when they visit this great city.”

The YHA has had a hostel in the city since 1936 and has been in Botley Road since 2001, undergoing major refurbishment in 2012.

The 203-bed accommodation has 63,000 customers a year and is one of the top five most popular hostels in the country – with bookings at 90 per cent capacity year round.

Ward councillor Susannah Pressell said: “This is the best place for them, near the train station.

“I am hopeful that we can come up with something.

“I will help them resist. But we know we have to help them and there are options.”

She said there were buildings nearby, such as the former Railway Club, which could be used by the hostel.

Both the city council and the county council failed to respond to requests for a comment.

Compulsory purchase orders

Compulsory purchase powers allow an authority to buy land to carry out a function which Parliament has decided is in the public interest. 
Anyone who has land acquired is usually entitled to compensation. 
Bodies with statutory powers can use the powers, usually councils and the Highways Agency. 
Last year, Oxford City Council used a compulsory purchase order to acquire a bungalow and land in Littlemore. 
It said the building has been empty for more than 10 years and had become a target for vandals and thieves.

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