Lancashire County Council was ready to spend £8.3m on refurbishing the bus station in Preston.
But, it insisted the cash be spent on a blueprint which could cost up to £23m.
Letters released under Freedom of Information (FOI) show it was willing to hand Preston Council the cash if it agreed to stick to the refurbishment plans outlined in a consultants’ report.
Campaigners opposed to the planned demolition of the building said the county council is open to the refurbishment, despite claims demolition was the only option.
John Wilson, the campaigner who submitted the FOI requests, said: “This letter shows Lancashire County Council is prepared to let Preston Council do a refurbishment of the bus station.
“I would say the £8.3m it has available will go a long way towards repairing a lot of things which are needed in of repairing.
“A lot of costs associated to the refurbishment the county council is talking about, are not required straight away.”
In the letters between county council chief executive Phil Halsall and his Preston Council counterpart, Lorraine Norris, he said the county council providing the Town Hall was willing to make up any shortfall in the cost.
In a later letter, sent in February, he added there was “nothing to be gained from further analysis” of the future of the building, saying the £23m plan was the only way forward.
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin said the cost of making up the shortfall would “bankrupt” the authority.
He said: “We wanted to look at a scheme to refurbish the bus station but we simply cannot afford it.
“The county council has said it will give us this money if we made up the shortfall.
“We are suffering huge cuts to our budget with more to come, we do not have the money.”