A Better Buckingham

We are proposing the redevelopment of the existing Buckingham Hotel (Buxton) which is suffering from serious structural faults. If no action is taken, the situation will deteriorate further, most likely leading to the building’s eventual collapse in time.

Our plans are based on sustainable development and involve creating a hotel with both an environment and facilities that actively promote well-being. The new hotel will be larger (110 bedrooms) and include ground floor restaurant and bar facilities plus substantial secure underground parking for guests.

There are wider benefits for Buxton as the scheme will:
  • Support the local economy by attracting over 50,000 overnight-stay visitors pa
  • Create the equivalent of over 60 full-time jobs
  • Seek to reduce its environmental impact by meeting all heating/cooling/hot water needs renewably with zero on-site CO2 emissions
    • recycling greywater for non potable uses
    • composting all food waste on-site
    • utilising wastewater heat recovery from discharged water to preheat hot water prior to use
    • growing leafy greens, herbs and selected vegetables hydroponically (no soil) for hotel use
    • reusing the existing facade stone to clad the new exterior walls
  • Massively increase the site's biodiversity, paying particular attention to bees and other pollinators by
    • creating a 500 m2 green roof meadow to meet the needs of wild pollinators and support research
    • choosing replacement trees and hedges that collectively provide nectar and pollen all year-round
    • providing valuable research opportunities involving wild bees and bats and their use of green roofs/bat boxes
  • Enhance Buxton's reputation as a destination which provides sustainable, world-class visitor accommodation

We’ve been working on the scheme for over 30 months, exploring design options and how best to achieve a sustainable development that reinforces the contribution of the new building to the conservation area. Our plans are nearing completion and we hope to submit them to High Peak Borough Council for consideration in early 2016.

UPDATE: Re Buxton Advertiser (4th Feb 2016)

The article on p3 incorrectly reported the scheme cost as £1.5m. This figure appeared in the Pure Buxton article and was in respect of the estimated (proven) costs of repairing the structural faults so as to stabilise the existing building (which have been independently reviewed and found to be uneconomic to undertake).

The development costs of the new hotel will be significantly greater than £1.5 million.

Background

The 37-bedroom Buckingham Hotel was completed in 1877 and established as a hotel in the early 20th Century. The hotel is not listed at any level, but in common with many local buildings, is considered a non-designated heritage asset. These are buildings that have no heritage significance in their own right but are considered of some value, in this case by virtue of being a typical Buxton building type.

The hotel is however, suffering from long standing fatal structural issues which are beyond economic repair and necessitate its demolition and rebuilding.

The worsening structural situation was first noticed circa 2010 which eventually led to a Structural Survey in Oct 2012. After a lengthy period spent exploring many design scenarios, a Pre-application submission was lodged with High Peak Borough Council in Sept 2014. Following receipt of their responses to the Pre-application, professional opinion was sought (both from built heritage experts and specialist legal counsel) and a full Planning Application will be made in early 2016.

In order to be granted planning consent, the tests in either paragraph 133 or 134 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) must be met. Both require assessment to be made of the current and proposed new buildings in relation to their respective impacts on the Conservation Area, taking into account the relative significance of the element affected and its contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area... as a whole. The public benefits of the proposal must also be considered, including securing its optimum viable use.

Additionally, in the event of paragraph 133 applying, the uneconomic repair case must be conclusively demonstrated (taking into account all other potential uses as well as existing). Redundancy must also be proven.

Given the uniqueness of the situation, the redevelopment affords a rare opportunity to showcase the substantial benefits that sustainable (re)development can achieve without compromising the heritage value - presenting visitors to Buxton with a par excellence eco-tourism facility to rival any in the Country.

The New Hotel

Size

The development is based on the existing hotel’s footprint (561 m2) plus that of the approved 2006 scheme for a four story side/rear extension - resulting in a combined area of 775 m2. The proposed scheme is slightly larger (917 m2), being marginally enlarged to the West and the South, to achieve a visual coherency that was not possible in the 2006 plans. For a comparison of the existing and proposed footprints, please see the detailed plans.

The present building is 14.76 m high whereas the new hotel will be slightly taller (6 ft) to accommodate an additional storey of bedrooms, which are necessary for overall viability.

The existing single storey basement will be extended below ground to provide 3 levels of underground parking as well as a small number of bedrooms on 2 lower ground levels - these will receive natural daylight via a lightwell.

Appearance

Our chosen design is traditional and most importantly, allows for the existing stone to be reused, so that the externally the new building will blend in as presently, thereby avoiding the ‘newly built’ look that recent Buxton schemes suffer from.

Facilities

  • Bar and restaurant (open to the public) plus reception areas (ground floor)
  • 110 bedrooms (90 rooms on floors 1-4 and 20 daylight provided rooms on lower ground levels)
  • 107 on-site car parking spaces, inc 6 disabled bays, plus 6 motorcycle bays and a secure area for 12 cycles (90 car spaces in the underground car park and 17 car spaces in the front car park)

Guests

The new hotel will be fully accessible throughout, as well as including five bedrooms which are classified as internally wheelchair-habitable in accordance with latest Building Regulations.

The existing pet-friendly policy will continue as will the commitment to providing accommodation suitable for families - 57 rooms have two or more beds with 21 containing three or more permanent beds (rising to 38 if temporary beds are added).

Well-being

The new hotel will look beyond standards set by outdated star classifications and seek to establish its reputation based on factors that genuinely resonate with today’s guest; namely an environment and facilities that actively promote 'well-being', convenience, accessibility, total connectivity and for the eco conscious... the ability to stay in a hotel whose level of sustainability matches their own expectations.

Significant numbers of guests do not use amenities historically considered luxury items (24% minibar, 15% trouser press, 15% shower cap) and the majority would be happy to sacrifice such in lieu of reduced rates (69% turndown, 68% bath robes, 51% designer toiletries, 48% room service).

Noise disturbance from other guests is the biggest annoyance (65%) when staying in a hotel room. Lesser factors are unsatisfactory heating/cooling, inadequate ventilation and size. Furthermore the B&B (Beds & Bathing) experience is often disappointing rather than aspirational.

The Hotels.com® Amenities Survey (2015)

The new hotel will seek to address these issues through a series of measures:

  • Ensuring excellent levels of bedroom sound insulation with a minimum airborne target reduction of 70dB. A 70dB noise reduction means that the source noise is reduced by a factor of 10,000,000. So for an extreme example, the sound of a powered lawnmower in an adjacent room (90dB) would be reduced to the sound of rustling leaves (20dB) whilst a more considerate guest hovering whilst listening to loud music and having a heated argument (80dB) would sound like a pin drop (10dB)
  • Providing silent 24 hr draught-free fresh air ventilation, supplied at the occupant’s desired temperature and optimum humidity, regardless of the season and controllable on a room by room basis. The incoming air passes through a HEPS (High Efficiency Purification System) which not only removes allergens (eg pollen) and toxic VOCs (eg car exhausts), but also airborne disease-causing microscopic particles responsible for causing infections such as influenza and common colds

    Fresh air (ventilation) during the night avoids a stuffy climate by removing the carbon dioxide exhaled during the night, ensuring a healthy night’s sleep. It also makes it easier to regulate body heat, ensures that you sleep more deeply, and prevents symptoms such as headaches and irritation of the airways
  • The average bedroom size (including en-suite) will be 27 m2. 94% of the rooms will be over 20 m2 and excluding the 44 rooms over 30 m2, the remaining 66 rooms will still average 23 m2
  • All rooms will include a double bed (75 with King Sized beds) and premium natural fibre mattresses, specifically designed to create the ideal temperature and ventilation for sleep plus optimum comfort/support. 57 rooms have two or more beds with 21 containing three or more beds
  • 104 bathrooms will include an enclosed steam shower, allowing guests to experience the full health benefits of a steam room as a luxury shower experience. Additionally 22 rooms will feature a free standing bath in the room itself (rather than the ensuite)
  • At least 84 bedrooms will include an infra red sauna cabin guaranteeing a full spa experience
  • Lighting plays a significant role in relaxation and all bedrooms will incorporate various LED lighting settings, forming part of a number of individually controllable room environment options
  • Building fabric efficiency will be reference (Passivhaus) standard. As part of this approach, all bedrooms will have specialist self-cleaning glazing to allow high daylight transmittance (70%+) whilst providing exemplary levels of insulation (U-value 1.0 W/m2) and noise reduction (30dB+)
  • 19 of the 23 top floor of bedrooms will feature balconies, allowing guests outdoor benefits
  • Security and safety are important guest concerns which may impact on their well-being . Accordingly access, safety and CCTV systems will be both state of the art and network integrated to provide the highest levels of protection with minimal inconvenience (eg biometric access)

In summary, the above will ensure that room facilities commensurate with well-being are at least equal to (or most likely exceed) those experienced by the guest in their domestic surroundings - and in all bar a very few hotels.

Convenience

Online/app based/onsite automated check-in/check-out, biometric guest access to floors/rooms, remotely controllable room options, secure onsite ANPR parking and full integration of devices with room AV/IT are examples of features that the new hotel will offer to maximise guest convenience.

Accessibility

As well as being fully accessible throughout, the new hotel will provide 5 bedrooms which are internally wheelchair-habitable in accordance with latest Building Regulations

Total Connectivity

This refers to the quality of Wi-Fi connection a guest experiences as well as the scope for the integration of their own devices.

Free Wi-Fi is the most important deciding factor for both business and leisure guests when choosing a hotel (even more important than things like luxury mattress, a fitness centre or free breakfast and parking).

The Hotels.com® Amenities Survey (2015)

Spiralling use of devices plus a growing demand for online multimedia content has driven up bandwidth requirements from 0.1 MB to at least 1 MB per guest room... with this figure rising by the day, hence the need for built in expansion capabilities to ensure satisfactory HSIA (wired/wireless).

The new hotel will utilise a leased line provision, with built in expansion capacity of up to 10 Gb, (based on maximum present day options). Part of any capacity will be set aside to enable the hotel’s Converged IP Network which will support a number of operational features (eg integrated intelligent property management lighting/HVAC/energy/fire systems, hosted VoIP/PBX/guest SIP phones, IPTV, CCTV, access control via wireless biometric locks and hosted reservation and managed revenue optimisation systems).