Spa hotel plans at the Crescent

Buxton Crescent is to be transformed into an 87-bedroom hotel and spa in a new £23million development.

Developers hope the ambitious renovation of the natural baths will mean Buxton will rival Britain's most popular spa attraction in Bath.

When completed in 2007, 104 permanent and 20 seasonal staff will work in the hotel owned by Trevor Osborne Property Group Limited.

It has also been agreed local contractors will be used in the building programme, which is expected to last 15 months.

The firm's chairman Trevor Osborne said: "This is significant not only for Buxton and Derbyshire but for the country as a whole.

"Not only will this rival Bath but it will be better. This will be the first spa hotel to open in 100 years. I am glad our submission has been accepted after rigorous scrutiny and we are ready to go forward energetically with our partners and other participants to restore the historic heart of Buxton.

"It will breathe new life into the magnificent crescent, assembly rooms and spa buildings – in effect restoring Buxton's crowning glory."

A joint committee made up of High Peak Borough and Derbyshire County Councillors selected the bid. The work went out to tender across Europe and Trevor Osborne's company was chosen in partnership with CP Holdings Limited, the parent company of Danubius Hotels – the largest spa hotel operator in Europe.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided a 467,000 grant to the two councils to help preserve the outstanding quality of the buildings. But the committee is applying for another handout as construction on the site will start in 2005.

High Peak Borough Council Leader David Lomax said: "Re-establishing the spa in Buxton will provide opportunities for many existing and new businesses in the High Peak, as Buxton becomes recognised as a health and lifestyle spa town.

"If all goes according to plan, Buxton will open its spa in 2007. This allows three years to prepare the infrastructure and work with businesses to ensure that we are ready to enjoy maximum benefit from this exciting project."

The Buxton Crescent project will feature much more than just a hotel and spa.

It will also have eight shops and a history centre showcasing the building's unique history and the development of Buxton.

The Tourist Information Centre will be moved to the ground floor of the Crescent and a cafe will open in the pump room.

And the ballroom and function suite will be restored and available for hire.

Hotel managers are also working closely with the University of Derby and will offer 30 work experience placements for the college's catering students at Harpur Hill.

High Peak Borough Council Leader David Lomax said: "There have been a lot of false dawns with this project in the past which have made us focus on exactly what we want now."

The planned restoration of the Natural Baths into a world-class spa has been welcomed by the British Spas Federation, who said the move was encouraging the revival of spas across the UK.

General Secretary Catherine Lloyd said the Buxton development could bring about the same publicity as that surrounding a similar eagerly-awaited project in Bath, which should be up and running next year.

"We are absolutely delighted to see spa towns investing in their rich spa heritage by bringing its waters – which in the case of Buxton are quite unique – back in use for members of the public," she said.

"All sorts of people will make use of the facilities, I imagine for all different reasons, but most probably they will be used for making people fell good about themselves and give them a sense of well-being."

She said as well as being used by the general public for leisure purposes, the waters could be used for recuperation, physical therapy and hydrotherapy, either self-administered or by referral through a GP.