Cash strapped councils to pour millions into Buxton luxury hotel

Derbyshire County Council has announced that it will "lend" £5 million to developers who plan to create a 79 bedroom luxury hotel at Buxton Crescent. DCC and High Peak Borough Council had already committed £2 million to the project. No details of when the loan is due to be repaid and at what rate of interest are available. The news come shortly after DCC announced that they were ending their £220,000 a year contract with the charity Homestart and revealed a four year plan to slash their overall budget by £157 million.

This might include abolishing the ten mobile libraries in the county (saving £700,000 per year), making parents of disabled children pay for transport (saving £190,000) per year.

DCC issued the following statement, which does not explicitly state how much money they are "loaning" to the developers

The Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa project began a number of years ago when the county and borough councils sought to find a new use for The Crescent - jointly owned by both authorities.
Funding is coming from a variety of sources, the developers (£15m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£12.4m), English Heritage (0.5m) and Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Borough Council (£2m).
The project was due to receive £5m from the East Midlands Development Agency, (EMDA), but this funding was withdrawn when EMDA was disbanded by the Government in 2011. Four recent bids to the Regional Growth Fund (the Government fund which replaced Development Agency grants) have not been successful.
The delay caused by losing the EMDA funding has meant that because of the current financial climate the developers have not been able to borrow the amount they need from the banks. And it is this amount that the council has agreed, in principle, to loan to them. Additional funds are also needed because of increased construction costs.
Councillor Anne Western, Leader of the Council said:
"The Crescent is of national historic significance and its restoration will put Buxton and the north of the county back on the map.
"This project is too important to Buxton and the rest of Derbyshire to fail. It is very disappointing that neither the Government or the banks have been able to give their support. Our only option to allow the restoration of the Crescent and in turn create a better economic future for Buxton is to loan the outstanding money ourselves."
Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, Leader of High Peak Borough Council, joint owners of The Crescent, said: "Returning this fantastic heritage building to full use has economic and cultural significance not just for Buxton, the High Peak and Derbyshire but nationally as well. The project is the linchpin of our £70 million heritage-led regeneration programme.
"I very much welcome the county council's decision to make this funding available and look forward to seeing work begin on the main construction later this year."
The loan, the actual amount has yet to be finally decided, will be made to the developers over a period of five years, with interest charged at commercial rates.
Trevor Osborne, Chairman of developers The Trevor Osborne Property Group said: "Derbyshire County Council's decision to provide loan finance, if it is necessary to do so to ensure that this project proceeds, is hugely appreciated by ourselves, as development partners.
"The county council, High Peak Borough Council, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund all share our determination that, after 10 years of working together, we must get contractors on site to restore the heart of Buxton in a way that the whole community deeply desires."
The Crescent was built in the 1780s by the 5th Duke of Devonshire as the centre-piece of his Georgian Spa development. The county council took over half the building in the 1970s and used it as offices and a library. High Peak Borough Council have owned the other half of the building since 1993 (formerly the St Ann's Hotel). The Natural Baths were run by High Peak Borough Council as a public swimming pool from 1937 until 1972 and then as Buxton's Tourist Information Centre.
The additional funding has been welcomed by academics at the University of Derby, whose students at its Buxton campus will benefit greatly. The hotel will offer work placements where students can gain vital experience.


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