Fears for future of Crescent project

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Two Buxton councillors have raised concerns that the town’s long-awaited Crescent development could be in jeopardy because of rising costs.

The £35 million project to transform the Grade I listed building into a 79-bedroom, five-star spa hotel has already been hit by funding shortfalls, and after being told in a confidential briefing that the costs have increased substantially, borough councillors Linda Baldry and John Faulkner now fear the project will never be completed.

The scheme is being funded by High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, as well as its developer Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa Co Ltd. But the county council has already had to step in with a loan, if needed, after £5 million of funding was lost when the East Midlands Development Agency was disbanded by the government.

Cllr John Faulkner has previously raised concerns about the development in letters to the Buxton Advertiser in which he said the briefings given by developer Trevor Osborne were not the same as those he received as a councillor.

He added: “There was a press release at the end of July and a public meeting was arranged for September 10 to be addressed by Trevor Osborne. The message was that the main contract would start in November 2014 with a view to completion in 2016.

“The most recent briefing I have had confirms my view expressed in June that the project as it is presently constituted is a dead duck.

“Like most people I am desperate for the Crescent to be developed via a sound and viable project with the right balance between private and heritage funding.

“Very significant resources and money has already been spent and it is essential that what has been done is not wasted but diverted to a deliverable alternative scheme without delay.”

And Cllr Linda Baldry added: “The council haven’t kept the residents of Buxton and the High Peak particularly well informed about what is going on. It is public money and therefore the public should be made aware of the situation.

“I think they’ve been putting a positive spin on it when really they should have treated people with respect and told them the truth.

“Everyone wants the Crescent development to go ahead, but if the costs are going up, how can the current project as it stands at the moment be built if the funding is not available?”

A public meeting to update locals on the plans for the scheme took place in Buxton last night (Wednesday).