Architect pens alternate plan to transform Buxton town centre

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An architect has put together alternative plans to transform Buxton town centre as part of its Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) bid - saying ‘there’s nothing futuristic’ about the council’s offering.

Roddie MacLean’s ‘local future high street’ design includes a proposal to demolish part of the Springs Shopping Centre and turn shop fronts around to face Spring Gardens.

The Vision Buxton chairman and architect says High Peak Borough Council’s proposals funnel visitors from the station and a new multi-level underground car park directly into ‘a retained 1980's shopping centre’.

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He said: “The council have mounted The Springs like a diamond.

An artist's impression as part of the council's bid for the Future High Streets fundAn artist's impression as part of the council's bid for the Future High Streets fund
An artist's impression as part of the council's bid for the Future High Streets fund

“It’s as though there’s something there worth keeping but there isn’t - the plans are wrong on so many levels.

“We have to be realistic about the shopping centre and adapt it - but we need to make Spring Gardens more interesting.

“The current plans are all about going straight from the shopping centre to the station.”

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Buxton is one of 100 towns to be shortlisted for a portion of £1 billion government funding to bring people back into town centres by improving access, converting empty properties into new homes and workplaces and investing in infrastructure.

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Spring Gardens, BuxtonSpring Gardens, Buxton
Spring Gardens, Buxton

Roddie as well as Buxton Civic Association and Buxton Town Team say the council’s bid places too much emphasis on locating shops and accommodation outside of Spring Gardens.

Instead of building a large new retail building away from Spring Gardens next to the council’s proposed new Wye Square, Roddie suggests placing a community hub with a library and other uses in the now-vacant Marks and Spencer store.

Buxton Town Team say the area the council propose for Wye Square is too small to act as a public space.

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Backing comments made by the group Roddie proposes building a larger Wye Square fronting an enlarged supermarket and another ‘Library Square’ the other side of the community hub.

Roddie MacLean's alternative vision for Buxton town centreRoddie MacLean's alternative vision for Buxton town centre
Roddie MacLean's alternative vision for Buxton town centre

He said: “I’d just like to see people back in Spring Gardens - this could be done by turning shops around to face what would be Library Square.

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“The focus has to be on Spring Gardens and enhancing the existing - some of the buildings there are lovely and that has to be part of the scheme.”

Another criticism of the council’s plan is that its new pedestrian route into the town - ‘Station Terrace’ - would take visitors into The Springs via three sets of steps with three sets of lifts for the less able-bodied.

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Roddie said: “It’s a great idea but they should not be making it their big-ticket item.

“What difference will it make to people once they’re parked in their multistorey car park?

“We’re inviting people into the town and saying the only way for the less able-bodied into the town is to use three lifts.

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“We want this to succeed - but I worry this will fail to attract the funding.”

Buxton’s bid for the FHSF will be submitted at the end of April and a decision is expected in the autumn.

To view the council’s proposals in detail click HERE.