Residents back plans to transform Buxton town centre

Plans to transform Buxton town centre have been backed by two-thirds of people who shared their views on the proposals.

The vision for the future was unveiled last month and over 800 people attended public consultation events in Spring Gardens, with a further 70 people taking part in youth consultation events. 

More than 460 written responses were received, with the following elements coming out as favourites:

  • Station Terrace - the new pedestrian route from the train station to Springs
  • The proposals to use the change in level behind Springs to create multi-level car parking
  • The plans to re-use the surface level parking outside Waitrose as a new square with toilets, leisure/cinema facilities and river enhancement

High Peak Borough Council thank local residents and businesses for getting involved. 

Councillor Damien Greenhalgh, Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Regeneration, Tourism and Leisure, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response which demonstrates, as we expected, the terrific strength of enthusiasm and desire to see Buxton town centre improved.

“It’s particularly encouraging that so many people – more than two-thirds of those who responded – back the plans. I am also delighted to see so many younger residents participating too. Understandably, other people gave more cautious support and, whilst generally positive, wanted to see changes to some aspects of the proposals which we are now looking at to see whether they can be incorporated.

“This isn’t the end of the process but the start of it – there will be continuous engagement and refinement based on public feedback, technical advice and finances. For instance, a number of concerns were expressed about the impact on disabled people if the proposed lifts aren’t operating properly so this is something we are going to explore further to get it right.”

Other areas which attracted mixed views including parking – many residents felt that more should be provided but others were of the view that less parking could encourage people to switch to greener modes of transport.

A possible new commercial cinema also attracted differing opinions with some, particularly those aged 65+ expressing concerns about this might impact on the independent cinema in the Pavilion Gardens, whilst responses from younger age groups were strongly in support and welcomed the idea.

The emerging proposals are part of a business case being developed by the borough council, as part of the bid to secure funding from the Government’s £1 billion Future High Street Fund (FHSF) - co-investment from the private and public sectors will also be required.

The FHSF comes with a number of restrictions so even if some of the feedback is sensible it may fall outside of what this particular grant is eligible to be spent on.

Council Leader, Councillor Anthony Mckeown, said: “These transformative proposals are aimed at providing the sort of town centre residents want and we need to listen carefully to what they have said.

“Their message was clear – they do not want to see ‘grand plans’ that aren’t based on commercial reality or those which would take decades to realise. That’s why the brief we gave the design team was to focus on the types of business interested in investing in the town whilst providing flexible spaces that can respond to changing demands.

“People may also have read the specific comments made by local organisations such as the Buxton Civic Association and Vision Buxton and we have responded directly to those groups. All feedback is welcome and we have, where possible, made revisions to the proposals, although the alternatives being proposed that have been found to be either ineligible for the funding or incapable of attracting the necessary co-investment from the private sector, cannot be taken forward at this time.

“We want to give Buxton the very best chance of securing this funding. Aspects such as how buildings will meet national standards relating to the climate crisis, or how they will comply with local design policies, will come at a later stage. But I do want to reassure people that the costs associated with that are being built in to our plans.

“We’ve been delighted with the response we’ve had so far and I’d urge people to get behind these proposals so we can deliver a town centre fit for the future and one we can all be proud of.”

Full details, including the responses to local groups, are available to view at www.highpeak.gov.uk/article/4350/Future-High-Street-Fund-Application-for-Buxton.

Image credit: Pam Smart

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