Hostel mysteries deepens

INVESTIGATIONS could take place into whether a controversial hostel in the heart of a busy village has been turned into a guest house without permission.

By Richard Cornwell

INVESTIGATIONS could take place into whether a controversial hostel in the heart of a busy village has been turned into a guest house without permission.

It's like "changing rooms" at Seven Oaks in Trimley St Mary – the magnificent 28-bed building started life as a vicarage, has been an old people's home, backpackers' hostel, flats . . . and now its apparently open to holidaymakers.

For people travelling through it would be the idea spot to stay.

An olde-worlde house set in spacious grounds down a quiet country lane which goes nowhere, it is the very essence of tranquility, a real getaway from it all.

But when The Evening Star rang the number on the board announcing Seven Oaks Guest House outside the property in Church Lane, a recorded message said "the number is not available".

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And the same message has been on the number for the past two weeks.

That just adds to the mystery of who is actually staying at the property – and how they managed to book a room when the number doesn't work.

Villagers say a number of young people are staying at the property, though during the day the house is empty.

Police have also made a series of visits in connection with alleged motoring offences concerning cars that are parked on the driveway.

One resident said: "What kind of a guest house is it where you cannot book a room? What is going on in there?

"It appears a large number of people are staying there though – it must be fully booked all the time.

"There is often a lot of noise at nights and cars roar up Church Lane and into the driveway. Everyone is feeling very uneasy about that building and it doesn't seem right that it should be allowed to happen in the middle of our community.

"It's about time it was sold off and used properly."

Villagers have become concerned about the state of the grounds. Part of the land was turned into a paddock for horses, but this now overgrown with four feet high grass.

The animals – which have now gone – have also stripped the bark from the trees with their teeth.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal council said Seven Oaks still only had permission for use as a hostel and the council was not aware of it being used as a guest house.

Enforcement officers would be looking into the matter and would welcome calls from the public with information about the usage.

Trimley beat bobby Pc James Kerr told parish councillors a number of visits had been made to the property concerning vehicles.

"We have been round there several times recently and there is a lot of coming and going. Quite a few of the vehicles have moved on and others will be moving on once we have spoken to the owners," he said.

Owner of the property Larry Graham was not available for comment today.

Seven Oaks was granted permission for use as a hostel in January 2000 when it was being used as a hostel for 50 foreign backpackers working on a year-out from their studies.

Villagers had objected to the hostel use because they were worried at so many young men – aged 18 to 30 – roaming their community.

The hostel closed in February 2000 and the building stood empty for several months.

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