Operator sought to run hostel

Anstruther's Murray Library
Anstruther's Murray Library

PLANS to transform Anstruther’s Murray Library into an upmarket backpackers hostel are continuing to move forward with its owners now looking for an operator to run the accommodation unit, when it opens.

The Murray Library Trust has secured funding and hopes the former library building will be ready to open in summer 2013, but wants the operator to come on board as soon as possible so it can have an input into the design and facilities.

A spokesperson for the trustees said: “We are delighted that we have managed to secure funding to bring the Murray Library back into a productive use which will benefit the local economy.

“The budget holiday accommodation will provide affordable hostel-style facilities and will be a welcome boost for users of the Fife Coastal Path and others seeking a good value holiday in the East Neuk.”

The building, which overlooks the town’s picturesque harbour, is expected to open up Anstruther to a new kind of tourist nicknamed ‘flashpackers’.

It will be aimed at visitors looking for somewhere to stay that is of a standard higher than an ordinary backpackers’ hostel but without the costs of staying in a hotel, and will offer accommodation for up to 36 people.

The trust will lease the backpackers’ part of the building to the operator, with plans to convert its former snooker hall into three smaller business units, for local people to sell or display their wares, kept separate.

Money for the refurbishment, which is part of the wider £2.7 million Anstruther Townscape Heritage Initiative, has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland CARS, the European Regional Development Fund and Fife Council.

Other projects in the initiative include works to the Hew Scott Hall and Wester Town Hall, and to Anstruther’s historic streetscape.

Meanwhile, the Trust has moved to clarify a few aspects of the Murray Library project, despite already having hosted an open event, after a number of questions were asked by a concerned resident.

A spokesperson explained: “All the necessary (planning) applications will be made. The architects are working with the council and the first work that is going to be carried out will be outside. Some of it will simply be repairs.

“It hasn’t been de-listed. Historic Scotland has a different way of doing its listings. This is nothing to do with the trustees – no one has any influence on this. Historic Scotland makes the decisions.”

Finally, with regard to updating its constitution, with charities’ regulator OSCR, the spokesperson added: “At the moment, we have our original deed and, when the trustees have decided exactly what is happening with the snooker hall, we will then decide what type of constitution we will be looking for.

“We will be taking advice on how to get the best one to meet the future needs of the trustees and, of course, we will need OSCR’s approval.”