Buxton needs a plan to make the most of The Crescent and the other wonderful assets of the town when it opens in 2019.
This is the message from the man in charge of ensuring the town benefits from the £50million ambitious project which will return the famous Georgian Crescent to full use as a thermal spa and five-star hotel and heritage centre.
Speaking in front of 200 people at a University of Derby public lecture, chairman of the Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa Heritage Trust, James Berresford, said: “If everyone pulls together, Buxton could be transformed by the restoration of the Grade I listed building into a world-class five-star spa hotel and visitor attraction.
“What Buxton doesn’t have is a plan at present as to how to turn itself into a world class destination.”
Mr Berresford said in the world of global tourism, five-star hotels and rural B&Bs are now the ‘new norm’.
He added that as well as en-suite bathrooms and high quality food, he explained the need to take advantage of the ‘selfie generation’ who constantly post about their ‘high quality’ experiences on social media.
Mr Berresford also answered questions on improving Buxton’s retail, restaurants and street scenes.
“The Crescent’s heritage would create that excitement through oral history, professional story-telling and visitor experience projects which are already taking shape – but only if everyone in the town got together to make it work, Mr Berresford said.
“We need a plan. We can only do it if we do it together.
“It’s very important that the Crescent isn’t an island of elitism. This isn’t just about the people who can afford to stay in the hotel but the people in the wider community as well.
“The most important thing for us is to ensure that we have a sustainable product so people continue to come here.”
He added: “In the main, people in this country don’t know what a fantastic offer we have in the Peak District – some couldn’t even place the Peak District on a map,” he said.
Vice chancellor professor, Kath Mitchell, said the university was working on improving the cultural offer of tourism in Derbyshire, but she believed that public funding would only be available for projects which included partnerships with the community.
She challenged the audience: “How are we now going to make it happen so we can make Buxton one of the best visitor economies in the region after Chatsworth?”
Civic leaders and organisations from across Buxton have been developing a strategy to ensure the success of the Crescent development with meetings held every other month.
Speaking in January, High Peak Borough Councillor, Tony Kemp, said: “The regeneration of this iconic building comes from the heart of the Buxton community but it is also our ambition for it to be a catalyst bringing a step-change in the growth of tourism and other economic benefits across the whole of the High Peak and Derbyshire.”