Surging costs to maintain and repair council buildings could see Buxton’s library and Fairfield community centre and adult education centre moved across town.
The proposals form part of Derbyshire County Council’s aim to make use of the former Buxton Water bottling plant, close to the railway station.
Much of the site will be taken up by a new £20 million hospital, while the town’s two community hospitals would be closed and moved to the new location, along with some GP services.
As part of an agreement with Derbyshire Community Health Services Trust, which bought the site in December, the council would take up the remainder of the mammoth site in a bid to move several services onto one location and improve facilities.
To push this scheme ahead, the county council has been given £100,000 in government funding for a feasibility study.
Giving the scheme the go-ahead yesterday (Thursday), council leader Coun Barry Lewis said: “This is a project that is welcomed by all of us here. It has been driving on for many years and it is good to see it all hopefully coming into fruition.”
The county council says that the cost of upkeep for its properties in Buxton is £400,000 each year, with the backlog in repairs stretching to more than £1 million.
These properties include the Corbar View and Eagle Parade buildings on the Market Place; the social care and adult education buildings, support centre and library in Kents Bank Road; and the Fairfield SureStart children’s centre, community centre and adult education centre off Victoria Park Road.
A report for this week’s cabinet meeting states: “The proposal is for the county council to enter into a partnership with the other public sector organisations to develop a business case for a healthcare and public services hub.
“The need for consolidation of disparate and poor quality sites has been known for many years, but we have not had the capacity or provision to deliver such a large scale project across a number of public sector partners.”
It states that the town hall houses the county council’s registration service, but the condition of the facilities is “extremely poor” and does not have a dedicated space to perform marriage and civil partnership ceremonies.
Meanwhile, it says that the Buxton’s library is “not designed for modern service delivery” but has “made the best use of the accommodation available”.
It states that the Adult Education Centre and the Community Centre in Fairfield “are in a poorer state of repair and do not present an attractive presence in the community”.
However, it says that it is “beneficial for the council to retain a dedicated presence in Fairfield”.
The council says that a “significant” amount of money could be generated by selling off some of its land and buildings around Buxton – if they are freed up by moving services to the proposed Station Road hospital site.
Cabinet member for council services, Coun Angelique Foster said that the project “could lead to a major change in how we organise our services, to make them more cost-effective and more convenient for those who use them”.
Labour leader, Coun Anne Western, said that she “fully supported” plans to move the library to a new site.
However, she wishes that this had been done by the authority’s own development company, created under her former administration and closed by the current Conservative leadership, so that the profits could be used elsewhere by the council.