£6.6 million funding for Buxton town centre transformation confirmed
Funding of £6.6 million to transform Buxton town centre has now been confirmed.
It was announced on Boxing Day 2020 that the Government was awarding the Future High Streets Funding to the town on principle – subject to High Peak Borough Council submitting a revised business case.
Further public consultation took place in January and February, and the council then submitted a revised proposal which has now been approved.
Councillor Damien Greenhalgh, Deputy Leader of the council and Executive Councillor for Regeneration, Tourism and Leisure, said: “We’re absolutely delighted - after a lot of hard work - to have secured this transformative funding for Buxton. Together with the £4.2 million from the council’s own cash investment, this sends a clear message that we are serious about our ambition for High Peak, for reviving Buxton and helping to deliver the post-Covid recovery that we need.
“The hard work starts now – this is obviously a significant sum and we need to ensure that we spend it to best effect to restore the vibrancy to Spring Gardens and create the right environment for a thriving town centre for many years to come.
“That’s why we’re committed to working co-operatively with people who share our passion for regenerating Buxton. We know that there will be bumps along the way and challenges ahead in delivering this scheme - not least of which are the changing economic circumstances and meeting a wide range of aspirations.
“But we’re more than equal to it and we’re looking forward to getting on with this exciting project and giving Buxton residents the town centre they have told us they want.”
High Peak Borough Council’s initial proposals included:
- Improving the pedestrian route to and from the railway station
- Increasing residential and office use in the town centre – especially on the upper floors of buildings
- Increasing leisure, food and drink uses, pop-ups and shared spaces
- Modernising infrastructure to include smart parking, electric vehicle charging and cycle interchange.
The plans included building a new pedestrian street from the train station and a new public square, as well as hopes for new leisure attractions such as a cinema, gym and family restaurants and developing a new multi-level car park behind The Springs.
But they were criticised by some leading town groups for not focusing enough on Spring Gardens.
Buxton Civic Association withdrew its support for the council’s bid, saying there was too much emphasis on the now ‘outdated’ Springs Shopping Centre and ‘unpopular’ proposals for underground car parks.
And Vision Buxton had also criticised the plans with group Chairman Roddie MacLean blasting them for ‘funnelling’ visitors from the station.
He also slammed proposals for a new pedestrian route into the town via three sets of steps with three sets of lifts for the less able-bodied.
The council later amended their plans in response to the comments, but the Civic Association said they still didn’t feel they went far enough.
The authority said the aim of the project is to bring more people into the town centre at different times of the day by offering more varied opportunities for living, working and enjoying free time.
Proposals include the development of new multi-level car parking behind The Springs and re-use of the surface level car parking for homes, leisure and community facilities.
A delivery board will now be set up led by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the council with members comprising those with a financial investment in the project and representation from a new town stakeholder group who will act as an advisory panel to ensure community voices are heard.
Councillor Anthony Mckeown, Leader of the council, added: “I’d like to express our appreciation and thanks to everyone who has contributed to helping us get to this stage and those who have shared their views and thoughts on the future of Buxton. Together we can really refresh and reinvigorate our high street for the future. We now look forward to getting on and delivering it.”
Welcoming the announcment, High Peak MP Robert Largan, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the £6.6million funding to regenerate Buxton town centre has now been fully confirmed.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the town and I really hope the council continue to listen to local people and businesses, to fine tune the plans and make the most of this money. It’s vital that we get this right and revitalise Buxton town centre.
“A huge thanks to Councillors Linda Grooby and Tony Kemp for their hard work helping to secure this funding and to everyone who has taken part in the bid process and taken the time to share their views in the consultation.
“Let’s work together to make the High Peak even better!”