Campaigners who fought to save Preston Bus Station from demolition have called on creative minds to restore the building to its former glory.
Preston Council intends to refurbish the station, after the Government granted the 44-year-old structure Grade II listed status following an application from English Heritage.
The authority’s Labour leader Peter Rankin revealed he was in talks with County Hall chiefs over securing money for a revamp and trying to tap into Heritage Lottery Funding.
He said the figure of £17m to £23m, which consultants advised the council it would cost to refurbish the station, was to do “a top quality refurbishment” and “it would be possible to do something with a lot less than that”.
He said: “If you’ve got £2m you can do £2m of work and if you’ve got £5m you can do £5m of work. It’s just what is possible to do with the amount of money you’ve got. All along we haven’t had the money.”
John Wilson, from the Save Preston Bus Station group, called on Lancashire County Council to release an £8.3m kitty that was previously set aside to help build a new station.
He said the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who made the decision to list the building, had said “billions of pounds” in grants were available.
He said: “The bus station certainly needs some paint around it, but more than that it needs a real investment.
“Angela Brady, the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said they were prepared to back a national or international competition to give ideas to Preston Council and English Heritage on what they can do with the bus station.”
Fellow campaigner Professor Charles Quick said the station and its car park were an important part of the city’s public transport system and vital to help bring people in from housing developments set to be built on the outskirts of Preston.
And he said festive events held at the site had also shown it could be a cultural resource.
He said: “I’m happy Preston Council are talking to Lancashire County Council and I hope they talk to other people in the city as well. The more people the council can involve in finding solutions the better.
“The Preston Passion demonstrated the forecourt is a fantastic asset for Preston that could be used as another public space.”
Aidan Turner-Bishop, chairman of the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, said the station needed to be restored to its former glory.
He said: “This is great news, long awaited, and now let’s do a really great job for the people and the bus passengers of Preston.
“Let’s get it back to how it was when Keith Ingham and Charles Taylor of BDP designed it. It was like a Swiss airport terminal - it had the best lighting, the best woodwork and it was very smart.
“There is no reason why it can’t have attractive shops and a cafe bar and a space for small studios. It could be an enterprise centre.
“Don’t forget the roof - they don’t park cars on there so it’s empty. It could be a rooftop garden, a pop-up bar or Britain’s greatest skate park. Let’s have some imagination and vision.
“First of all a lick of paint would do the world of good!”
Lancashire County Council said talks were ongoing between the two authorities.
County Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of the county council, said: “We have been working hard with the city council on plans for the future of public transport in Preston and that work continues.
“The listing of the bus station obviously introduced some additional challenges, but we’re working with the city council to explore the options now available to us with a view to ensuring the city has good facilities for bus passengers and operators, and the wider transport infrastructure it needs to support future growth.”