Buxton misses out on UK’s Great Town 2014 title

Buxton representatives at the Great Town Award dinner in London on Friday. Photo contributed.
Buxton representatives at the Great Town Award dinner in London on Friday. Photo contributed.

Buxton is one of the UK’s greatest towns, the internationally-respected Academy of Urbanism declared last week at a glittering awards ceremony in London.

The town was praised by the judges who told community leaders that it had a great future ahead of it.

Buxton was up against Hastings and the Irish town of Cork in the final of the Academy’s Great Town 2014 Award, with Cork taking the honours.

And although it did not win the title, Buxton’s burgeoning renaissance was recognised by the judges who saw how its most iconic building, the Crescent, was on target to be transformed into a modern spa hotel as part of a multi-million pound restoration.

This would be the climax to 30 years of regeneration which has taken Buxton from “faded gentility” to a vibrant player on the national scene.

And the judges, made up of leading architects, town planners and philosophers, praised the University of Derby Buxton for being a major catalyst in that regeneration.

The Academy’s Richard Guise said “Localism is fizzing in Buxton,” and praised the active partnership between Buxton Town Team and High Peak Borough Council which saw an insistence on good design.

Buxton Festival and Fringe were highlighted, as was the opera house and its army of supporters, just one example of citizens giving up their time for nothing which led the judges to say that Buxton could be studied to set a national standard for volunteering.

Members of the Buxton Town Team led a steering group made up of High Peak Borough Council, the University of Derby, Buxton Festival, Transition Buxton, Vision Buxton and the Trevor Osborne Property Group Ltd, for the campaign, which culminated in judges visiting the town in August.

Although winning would have been ideal, one of the steering group members said that just reaching the finals had spurred the community on to shine a spotlight on what they believed needed to be done to make Buxton even better.

“Winning is excellent, but it’s only part of what it’s all about,” she said.

Ideas already being developed as a direct result of Buxton’s involvement in the competition include: developing a study of Buxton’s volunteering culture; looking into opportunities for Buxton to become a venue for conferences once more and creating more Buxton-branded merchandising to promote tourism.

The Town Team thanked all those who had helped to support Buxton’s bid, especially the public who met the judges at a Pavilion Gardens reception.