An extra £11.3 million of funding has been awarded towards a scheme to redevelop Buxton’s historic Crescent.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) today (Friday) agreed to contribute the money - in addition to the £12.5m it awarded in 2006 - to the project to repair and restore the iconic Grade I listed building into a five-star thermal spa and hotel.
The extra cash is expected to secure the long-term future of the flagship £46 million development, which has been plagued by delays due to legal difficulties and funding problems.
CLICK THE ‘PLAY’ BUTTON ABOVE TO WATCH VIDEO OF HARRIET HARMAN MP’S BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR OF THE CRESCENT LAST MONTH
Cllr Caitlin Bisknell, Leader of High Peak Borough Council, hailed the announcement as “an extremely important moment for the town”, and said she looked forward to seeing work on the project start in the New Year.
“This is exactly the news everyone has been hoping and waiting for,” Cllr Bisknell explained.
“I know many people have fond, personal memories of the former hotel and baths and are anxious to see the buildings restored. It’s been a long time coming but it really does now feel like all the hurdles have been cleared.”
The “final piece of the funding jigsaw”, Cllr Bisknell said, was now a bid to secure £2m from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
The long-running project to bring the building, built by the fifth Duke of Devonshire, back into public use for the first time since 1992, will see it transformed into a 79-bedroom spa hotel incorporating the neighbouring natural baths, along with a state-of-the-art thermal, natural mineral water spa, and six specialist, boutique shops.
Plans also include an interactive visitor centre, tearoom and heritage experience in the Grade II listed Pump Room - open to the public free of charge - as well as enabling public access and interpretation of the Assembly Rooms.
Developer Trevor Osborne, of Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa Co Ltd, said: “The restoration of the Crescent is the cornerstone of the heritage-led regeneration currently helping to revitalise the High Peak so this is the best possible news we could have received.
“We’ve chosen our contractor, Vinci, who carried out the first phase and the enabling works so have a proven track record in this field.
“Subject to securing the final piece of the funding jigsaw we’re all set to go in the New Year – it’s an exciting time for the scheme and the whole town.”
The announcement of extra funding by the HLF came on the back of a visit to Buxton by its representatives on November 7.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Buxton is a gem of the Peaks and the perfect example of how heritage can help to regenerate a whole town and give it a new sense of purpose.
“The Crescent is the final piece in the puzzle, rejuvenating a precious example of Georgian architecture and creating a base for people from all over the world to explore Derbyshire’s treasures.”
In January, Derbyshire County Council (DCC) offered to step in, if needed, with a multi-million pound loan to fill a £5m funding gap left by the disbanding of the East Midlands Development Agency.
DCC leader Cllr Anne Western added: “Once the works have been completed and the building is open for business this will mark a new beginning for Buxton. The economic benefits will be felt for many years to come and an iconic building will have been saved for future generations.”