Work to breathe new life into Buxton’s historic Crescent has finally begun.
Contractors moved on to the site of the iconic building on Monday – heralding the start of work on the long-awaited £46million project.
When finished, the Crescent will boast a 79-bedroom five-star hotel, a thermal spa and six shops.
It is expected to open to the public in two years.
Town leaders have hailed the news – saying the ambitious development will revitalise Buxton and significantly boost the town’s economy.
Contractors Manchester and Cheshire Construction Company will start by refurbishing the Grade II-listed Pump Room which will become a visitor centre and tearoom.
Work is then expected to get underway next year to redevelop the Grade I-listed Crescent – which has stood empty since 1992.
The project has been plagued by delays due to legal difficulties and funding problems.
The much-anticipated project to bring the Crescent back into public use will see it transformed into a 79-bedroom, five-star hotel incorporating the neighbouring natural baths.
It will also boast a state-of-the-art thermal, natural mineral water spa and six specialist, boutique shops.
European leader Danubius Hotels has already been secured as the hotel operator.
The flagship development is being funded by a £23.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and money from developer Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa Co Ltd, High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council and Historic England.
Developer Trevor Osborne said: “We all share the excitement and enthusiasm of all those people who have been waiting for this day and it is great to see work starting.
“We expect the Pump Room project to take around six months and the main contract on the Crescent should begin as this finishes so contractors should now be on-site until all of the building works are complete.”
Councillor Tony Kemp, deputy leader of High Peak Borough Council, said: “Monday was a momentous day for the Crescent project, the town of Buxton and the High Peak and wider region.
“It marks the start of the renaissance of this iconic building which will cement Buxton’s place as England’s leading spa town.
“It has been a long time coming but we are finally able to welcome the contractors on site and I know that the very many residents and supporters of Buxton will share my delight that work is now underway.”
Coun Ron Mihaly, the county council’s deputy cabinet member for strategic policy, economic development and budget, said: “The restoration of the Crescent will breathe new life into Buxton and attract visitors to Derbyshire from across the world.
“The economic benefits will be felt for very many years to come and this wonderful building will have been saved for future generations to enjoy.”
Jonathan Platt, head of East Midlands HLF, added: “This is fantastic news for the Crescent and Buxton as a whole.
“The start of work is a milestone which marks the start of a whole new chapter in what is one of the most important Georgian buildings in the country and it is the last piece in the puzzle of the reinvention of Buxton as a tourist destination.
“This project is incredibly exciting and of tremendous importance to the whole of Derbyshire’s heritage and economy and that’s why we are supporting it with one of our biggest grants.”
The Crescent was built by the fifth Duke of Devonshire between 1780 and 1789.