Buxton’s battle to get the final funding for the vital Crescent project has gone right to the top of Government.
Cabinet minister Baroness Warsi arrives in the town today (Thursday) on a fact-finding mission which council leaders hope will seal the last piece of the jigsaw in the long running saga.
This week it also emerged that all parties in the £32 million project have signed a grant funding agreement that confirms the availability of £12.5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding.
Baroness Warsi will meet local Conservatives Tony Ashton and Tony Kemp to discuss possible measures to fill any funding gap after £5 million earmarked for the project from the East Midlands Development Agency was lost when the regional development agencies were axed.
They will also discuss the recent developments at Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens and Arts Centre.
Mr Ashton said “We will be explaining to Baroness Warsi how these critical schemes have helped boost the local Peak District economy far beyond the confines of Buxton itself, and just how vital the Crescent development will be as the cornerstone of our future plans to safeguard the sub-regional tourism economy.
“Apart from the more obvious visitor services based in the local towns, tourism also helps to underpin the hard-pressed rural farming communities through diversification.”
Tony Kemp added: “We also had news yesterday (Tuesday) that all parties have now signed the Crescent grant funding agreement, which finally confirms availability of the £12.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund allocation and paves the way for other possible means of closing the apparent funding gap.
“We are pressing hard for this project to go now to tender, as it is known many similar projects are coming in at lower cost than anticipated because fewer projects are on the market; it may well be that any funding gap proves lower than the original cost estimates led us to believe.
“I know that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has great enthusiasm for this project. Minister Jeremy Hunt viewed the Pavilion Gardens projects last year with me and Andrew Bingham MP and is highly supportive of the need to find the last tranche of cash in order to deliver the Crescent scheme, which he recognises is of national importance.”
Earlier this month the Crescent project failed to secured £5 million in the first round of bids to the massively oversubscribed Regional Growth Fund.
A new bid is due to be made when further funds will be allocated.