The cost of the Buxton Crescent project has increased again and has missed another deadline for when it is due to open.
Alongside this, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that Derbyshire taxpayers have been funding a private management consultancy firm whose remit is to keep the project on track and within budget.
Since 2012, a contract led by High Peak Borough Council, supported by Derbyshire County Council, has seen more than half a million pounds spent on the company, Gleeds Advisory.
In that time, the cost of the project has doubled from £35 million to “around £70 million”.
In October, when the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed that Buxton Crescent costs had increased from £52 million to £68 million, Gleeds was paid £111,500 to ensure that money was being spent well.
The project’s total cost has now increased by around another £2 million.
Buxton Crescent was due for completion in 2007 and is now 12 years overdue, while the latest deadline was this summer.
However, it has missed that deadline too, and the project is now not set to be finished until later this year for a full opening next year.
Cllr Damien Greenhalgh, deputy leader of High Peak Borough Council, said: “The council has been assured by the developer that the project will achieve practical completion this year.
“The hotel will be open following a fitting out period but significant progress has been made on bedroom and spa fit out already.
“The hotel operator is keen to ensure that the opening is carefully managed to ensure maximum impact.”
Derbyshire County Council redirected the LDRS’ approach for comment to the Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa Company – a firm set up for the project by High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, and a group of private developers.
When the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the firm for comment, it said that it was “not quite ready” to talk to the media and that “progress at the Buxton Crescent is moving on at a pace”.
The LDRS asked again for a formal statement on the opening, which was due to be this summer.
In response, the firm said: “Work is progressing well. Work in many areas of the building are complete.
“We have not announced an opening date yet and will update you once we have set an opening date.”
A spokesperson for High Peak Borough Council confirmed that Gleeds is the project manager for both the county and borough councils and that costs are shared equally between the two councils – but did not comment further.
An FOI request showed that work to finish the project was due to be completed later this year – while sources say a full opening will not come until next year.
The aim of the project is to return the venue – built by the fifth Duke of Devonshire in the 1780s – to use as a five-star 79-bedroom luxury hotel and spa.
It would have indoor and outdoor pools, using Buxton’s famed mineral water; treatment rooms making use of “mineral-packed mud”, sauna and steam rooms, an ice room, fitness studio, beauty salon, cafe, a restaurant with two bar areas and six retail shops.
The finished project aims to provide 140 permanent jobs and boost the local economy by £4.5 million.
Work to repair the building has been taking place in full force since 2016, and it has remained vacant since 1992 – more than a quarter of a century ago.
Once up and running, the venue will be run by Hungarian operator Danubius Hotels Group.
The owner of Danubius, CP Holdings, is one of a number of developers which have fronted 40 per cent of the money for the project, and would part-own the scheme.
The remaining 60 per cent is being fronted by public organisations, such as Derbyshire County Council.
Costs soared last year due to the discovery of a wide array of damage and required restoration which had previously been unknown.
A spokesperson for the authority had said that when full-time work on the project began in May 2016 the “fabric of the building was in a significantly worse condition than any of the professionals involved in the development had any reason to expect”.