The Crescent development - what this means for High Peak ...
I can't really let one of these columns go without commenting on the news that the keys to The Crescent have finally been handed over to the developers and that work has now started in earnest to bring this magnificent building back to life.
I make no apology - this project has massive implications for the economy and regeneration of whole borough, from Buxton to Glossop.
It's been a long time coming, and many people have been involved along the way. At one time there was a plan as to turn it into apartments but that fell by the wayside because of funding issues and, I think, concerns about public access.
Eventually the current plan was adopted and after a lengthy process, Trevor Osbourne and European spa operators Danubius were selected as the preferred developers, bringing it's expertise
The detailed plans themselves have changed a number of times over the years as more and more was discovered about the underground geology of the area, the condition of the building, the requirements of funding partners such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.
Given that Buxton's spa reputation depends on it's water - it was vital that any plan to restore The Crescent, ensured that the source of Buxton Water was protected. It also brings in a sizeable income for High Peak Borough Council, helping to keep the council tax down, without this income borough residents would face a 10% rise in the council tax they pay to the borough - or drastic cuts in services.
Not surprisingly, therefore, we have spent a lot of time, and money, making sure that the well is protected. But given the potential impact I believe it as money that had to be spent.
I believe it is hard to underestimate the benefits that this scheme will bring not just to Buxton and High Peak, but also regionally and nationally.
So, what benefits will the development bring to the area? For the town just seeing such an iconic building restored after all these speaks volumes in itself. In practical terms there will, of course, be jobs for local people both in the construction stage and later when the hotel and spa are opened.
I also believe it will be a catalyst for other developments - not least of which is the town's bid for Portas Pilot status. We have recently seen The Grove Hotel close for refurbishment, plans are also afoot to restore The George Hotel.
There is still a funding shortfall and the council continues to work closely with Derbyshire County Council, THe Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the developers to close that gap. We are also working with High Peak MP Andrew Bingham to lobby ministers to persuade them of the importance of this scheme and to seek support for our funding bid to the Regional Growth Fund - hopefully it will be third time lucky!
This summer work will finally start in earnest to turn the Pump Room into a Visitor Information Centre for the project as well as on The Crescent itself, with doors due to open in late Autumn 2014.
So for now let us take time to rejoice in this news. A new page - the next chapter - in the history of this remarkable building is starting.
Cllr Caitlin Bisknell
Leader, High Peak Borough Council
Last updated: 23rd April 2012