Battle for bus station reignites

Preston Bus Station today
Preston Bus Station today
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The battle to save Preston bus station has been re-ignited after a heritage lobby revealed it will look again at listing it.

English Heritage has confirmed it has received “substantial new information” from the 20th Century Society about the design of the iconic building which warrants looking again at listing it.

Two previous applications to list the building have been rejected by Government ministers.

Today, the leader of the city’s council said he does not believe there is enough new evidence to halt the planned demolition.

Coun Peter Rankin said: “It is only two years since the Minister last rejected the listing application for Preston Bus Station and we simply do not believe there is enough evidence to alter that decision.

“The only real difference is the huge cut backs in public spending, forcing councils to take difficult and unpalatable decisions like demolishing the bus station.

“A building that, even though has its admirers, costs Preston taxpayers nearly £300,000 a year to run and will cost many more millions to repair.

“Given the relatively short period since the last application, we expect the Minister to reach the same conclusion as last time.”

In a letter to the council, English Heritage confirmed that extra information relating to the “glass reinforced polyester” was significant enough to warrant it looking again at the building.

The 20th Century Society found the information while researching in the archive of the bus station’s designers, Building Design Partnership, the architecture practice set up in Preston.

English Heritage will now carry out a preliminary assessment which it said would “set out the factual information” upon which it will base its recommendation.

Catherine Croft, a director of the society, said it had “rigorously researched” its new application.

She said: “This is a fresh opportunity for the City Council and other interested parties to re-assess the importance of this structure and to recognise its value as a legacy for the future of the city.”

A council spokesman added English Heritage had given it written confirmation that it will make no funding available for the restoration of the bus station, in the event it is listed.

English Heritage confirmed it will then invite representations from those people which have already expressed an interest in the building before making a recommendation to Architecture Minister, Ed Vaizey.

In 2009, then minister Margaret Hodge rejected English Heritage’s recommendation to list the building, a decision upheld by her predecessor, Ben Bradshaw, following a review in 2011.

In 2001, another application for listing, again recommended by English Heritage, was knocked back by Chris Smith, then the Secretary of State for Culture.

Yesterday, the council’s deadline for potential investors to express an interest in the building passed with just two people having met with Town Hall bosses.

The spokesman confirmed “at least two parties” had held face-to-face meetings with council bosses.

It is understood both parties are now looking into working up proposals for the future of the bus station.