Crescent saved by council cash

The Crescent Buxton
The Crescent Buxton

Derbyshire County Council has agreed to loan the developers behind a project to convert Buxton’s Crescent into a 79-bedroom five star spa hotel a multi-million pound sum to secure the future of the scheme.

Work on the ambitious project began several years ago with funding coming from a number of sources – the developers Trevor Osborne Property Group (£15m), Heritage Lottery fund (£12.4m), English Heritage (£0.5m) and Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Borough Council (£2m).

A further £5 million was due to come from the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) but the funding was withdrawn when EMDA was disbanded by the government in 2011. Four recent bids to the Regional Growth Fund, which replaced development agency grants, have been unsuccessful.

And the delay caused by losing the EMDA funding has meant that because of the current financial climate, the developers have not been able to borrow the amount they need from the banks. It is this amount that the council has agreed, in principle, to loan to them. Additional funds are also needed because of increased construction costs.

Cllr Anne Western, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “The Crescent is of national historic significance and its restoration will put Buxton and the north of the county back on the map.

“This project is too important to Buxton and the rest of Derbyshire to fail. It is very disappointing that neither the government or the banks have been able to give their support. Our only option to allow the restoration of the Crescent and in turn create a better economic future for Buxton is to loan the outstanding money ourselves.”

Trevor Osborne, chairman of the developers, said: “Derbyshire County Council’s decision to provide loan finance, if it is necessary to do so to ensure that this project proceeds, is hugely appreciated by ourselves, as development partners.

“The county council, High Peak Borough Council, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund all share our determination that, after ten years of working together, we must get contractors on site to restore the heart of Buxton in a way that the whole community deeply desires.”

And Cllr Caitlin Bisknell, leader of High Peak Borough Council, joint owners of the building, said: “Returning this fantastic heritage building to full use has economic and cultural significant not just for Buxton, the High Peak and Derbyshire but nationally as well. The project is the linchpin of our £70 million heritage-led regeneration programme.

“I very much welcome the county council’s decision to make this funding available and look forward to seeing work begin on the main construction later this year.”

The loan – the amount has yet to be decided – will be made to the developers over five years, with interest charged at commercial rates.