Friday, 04 September 2015

Dalston's former phone exchange to become holiday lodge

A former telephone exchange station is set to be turned into an overnight haven for ramblers and cyclists.

Dalston exchange photo
The former exchange building

City planners have approved plans to convert a disused BT telecommunications station in Hawksdale Road, Dalston, into short-term holiday accommodation.

The lodge will be available to people out walking and cycling in the surrounding woods to shelter in overnight.

It will feature a small kitchenette, sofa bed, bathroom, disabled access, an upstairs sleeping area, and a car parking space.

Suburban Studios, a development company based in Croydon, bought the building at the same time as about 10 others across the country.

Dr Anwar Ansari, the firm’s managing director, said the project is part of their plans to bring quirky, disused, rural buildings back to life.

Originally he wanted to convert the structure into low cost housing but planning rules would only allow him to develop it as holiday accommodation.

He told the News & Star: “We buy old water towers, reservoirs, anything weird and wonderful with a bit of an angle to turn into residential use.

“We wanted to convert the telephone exchange into a small house which would cost about £50,000 to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder but the laws didn’t allow us to.

“I bought it at the same time as 10 other exchange stations because I was looking for a holiday home but I decided to do something for the local community instead.”

It is the first time the company has embarked on a scheme in Cumbria but it does have knowledge of the area after purchasing an old water tower in Northumberland.

Dr Ansari said there is interest locally in investing in the Dalston telephone exchange station project, and he hopes to extend the building further.

“We would like to make it usable for families,” he added. “Whatever we can do to encourage tourism in such a picturesque area like Cumbria is a positive thing.”


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