AN EDUCATION centre in the Peak District could be converted into a youth hostel if talks between the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) and the Peak District National Park Authority are successful.
The authority has chosen the YHA as its preferred bidder to take over Losehill Hall in Castleton, which it is aiming to sell off in the face of Government spending cuts.
Senior officers are now set to enter into "detailed negotiations" with the YHA, which wants to revamp the Grade II listed hall and use it as a hostel to house up to 30,000 children each year.
National park authority bosses started looking for a partner to take over Losehill Hall after deciding they could no longer afford to operate the centre due to budget cuts.
Closing it could save about 250,000 a year in running costs and money would also be gained from selling off the hall, which has 41 bedrooms and 27 acres of parkland.
Four bids were submitted to take on Losehill Hall, from the YHA as well as the Field Studies Council, North Yorkshire Youth and the Lindley Educational Trust.
The chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority, Narendra Bajaria, said: "We evaluated all the bids to see if they were financially viable and to assess what contribution they would make, particularly the way their work would help achieve national park purposes by enabling people to enjoy and learn about this special area.
"We believe the YHA bid offers the best potential for a partnership which will see Losehill Hall go forward as an environmental learning and activity centre."