|Spring into Action|
|Thursday, 16 February 2012 12:30|
After years of false hope and delay, partners in the Crescent project are finally limbering up for a spring start on the £32m transformation.
Without any further setbacks, the first true spa hotel to open in the UK for more than 100 years could greet its first guests in the summer of 2014. Members of the public will also be able to ‘take the waters’ once again and there will be boutique shops in the front of the complex.
Contractors have been working in the Georgian building over recent weeks, carefully removing asbestos in readiness for the hoped-for start. If the document is signed, preparatory works including the diversion of the Buxton Water supply will go ahead.
Part of the colonnade behind the Crescent will be removed, allowing a temporary pipe bridge to be put in place to carry spring water from the source under the building to Buxton Water’s bottling plant. This will clear the way for excavations to provide a new plant and kitchen basement.
The preparatory phase will be followed by enabling works to allow the construction of the complex project to proceed. A revised planning application, drawn up after detailed geological investigations of the site, was approved by councillors at the end of last September.
However, the outstanding legal agreement is not the only pitfall to be overcome – a £5m funding gap remains to be filled. But the Buxton Crescent Hotel & Spa Company is pressing ahead with the project regardless, in expectation that the shortfall – left by the disbandment of the East Midlands Regional Development Agency – will be resolved in due course.
The Crescent is highlighted in English Heritage’s annual buildings at risk report as one of its top ten priorities. Nearly six years ago, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £12.5 million towards the project costs and there has since been a grant of £500,000 from English Heritage.
The Crescent, with its hotels, lodging houses and Assembly Rooms, was designed by John Carr of York and built in the late 1700s, to provide quality accommodation and a social heart to the town. It was the centrepiece of the 5th Duke of Devonshire’s bid to make Buxton a rival to Bath as the nation’s most important spa.
The Crescent Hotel closed a century ago and was used as a geriatric annexe to the Devonshire Royal Hospital, and later as council offices and a public library until 1992 when it closed due to structural defects. In recent years, the building has fallen increasingly into disrepair.
Story contributed by Pure Buxton Magazine