Robinsons Brewery has spoken out about the essential work it is carrying out at Buxton’s iconic Grove Hotel, but says it still has no plans to reopen it.
The Grade II-listed building on Grove Parade closed in August 2013 and has remained shut ever since. In July last year scaffolding went up at the front of the landmark building and part of its front wall was removed.
Meeting with The Advertiser, William Robinson, who is a joint managing director of the Stockport-based brewery which owns the hotel, said: “It is not commercially viable to reopen it, and until we can find someone wanting to take it on who has a business plan which will be successful it will remain closed.
“Nobody ever wants to close a place down and it is a sad moment when you do, but keeping it up and running has to make sense for the business and ten years prior to closing The Grove was operating at a loss.”
Built in 1626, The Grove started out as a coffee house before evolving into a coaching house and then a thriving hotel and bar.
Mr Robinson said: “We understand pubs are part of the community, but there has been a change in the market in relation to how people drink.
“More bottle shops and tap houses are opening up. Good pubs which are successful will always thrive, but it would be arrogant of us and ignorant of the industry not to notice these changes.
“However, we are still investing in our pubs - we have pubs from Carlisle all the way down to Stoke-on-Trent and in the past three years have invested in three pubs in New Mills and the New Inn in Buxton.”
In August 2004, firefighters had to be called to The Grove after heavy rainfall caused the property to flood and two feet of water had to be pumped out.
Mr Robinson said: “Currently we are no different to all of the other businesses in the town which have retail units below and empty storage space above, only that ours needs a bit of work to keep it safe.
“The Grove is a complex building with complex maintenance needs because of its age, and although there has been concerns for a while it has taken a long time to actually assess the problem.”
Timber beams which rest on top of the vertical columns which start at ground level had rotted and the wood had dropped, causing the outer wall to rotate and bow outwards. This meant there was a danger that if nothing was done with the building the front wall could potentially have collapsed.
Mr Robinson said: “Our priority is to make the building safe and dry for the tenants at ground level, and the work on the facade of the building will ensure The Grove fits in with the current street scene of Buxton and is not out of place.”
Commenting on the inside of the hotel, Mr Robinson said: “It is not plastered. We are making it structurally sound, but it is a building site and will remain as such until we have a plan.
“It is a big ask and will be a big project so we need to know the person who takes it on has the right ideas to make the investment work, but currently we haven’t had anyone come forward with such a business plan.”
Councillor Tony Kemp, High Peak Borough Council’s executive councillor for tourism, regeneration and licensing, said: “It is disappointing that they have no plans to reopen it, but I can understand Robinsons’ predicament as a building like this doesn’t fall into their usual business plan and they need someone with the right vision to carry the building forward to the next chapter.
“I personally think there is a gap in the market for a boutique hotel. We have the budget chain, the traditional hotel and the five-star Crescent is opening next year, but we need a little boutique place that can really make the most of the original features at The Grove.”