Airport-style plan for Preston bus station overhaul

Proposals: From left, Roger Parker, Simon Rigby and David Robinson at Preston Bus Station
Proposals: From left, Roger Parker, Simon Rigby and David Robinson at Preston Bus Station
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An airport-style lounge is the vision behind the multi-million pound takeover bid for Preston bus station, it can be revealed.

The Evening Post understands the proposal put forward by tycoon Simon Rigby would see it one side of the terminal facing towards the city centre kept as a bus station with the opposite side turned into a mix of shops and leisure uses.

The bidders have presented Town Hall bosses with a vision of coffee shops, convenience stores, shoe repair shops and leisure attractions on the side bordered by Tithebarn Street.

Today, the consortium declined to reveal the details of the bid which is being kept under-wraps due to a commercial confidentiality agreement which surrounds the building.

But, it confirmed the bid was committed to “a significant up front investment” in the building which is expected to run into “many millions” in the first 10 years after any takeover.

The bidders have provided the council’s Cabinet with full copies of the proposal, although it is understood there is sceptism around whether Mr Rigby’s bid will provide a long-term benefit for the bus station.

There is a belief the up front investment will be a “make do and mend” improvement rather than a transformational overhaul.

A council spokesman declined to comment on the detail of Mr Rigby’s bid, but confirmed officers had started work on a report on the bid.

He said: “The bus station is clearly a very important issue and needs to be considered fully and properly.

“A full report will be put to Cabinet in the next few weeks.”

The bus station was not raised when the council’s six-man Cabinet met on Wednesday and there is currently no meeting scheduled for next month.

The report is expected to outline the benefits of Mr Rigby’s bid against the offer on the table from Lancashire County Council to build a new, smaller terminal after demolition of the existing building.

A report from consultants brought in to give a second opinion on the Jacobs Report, drawn up by consultants hired by the county council, is also expected to be published soon.

The initial report said the cost of refurbishing the bus station and car park would be between £17m to £23.1m, a figure disputed by many supporters of the building.

The Evening Post understands the ‘second opinion’ has come back with broadly the same figures as the initial report.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Rigby said: “The intention is to operate the building as a car park and to make the ground floor area a welcoming area for people.”