Bus station available for £1

Under threat: A decision will be taken on the future of Preston bus station on Monday
Under threat: A decision will be taken on the future of Preston bus station on Monday
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Preston’s iconic bus station will be sold for £1 - if a bidder can find a plan to make it pay.

Peter Rankin, leader of the city’s council which claims it is paying nearly £300,000-a-year to keep the building open, said he had received an offer for the building.

He said the council would be willing to sell if someone could come up with “a fully-funded plan” to secure the future of the building.

The council’s cabinet will meet on Monday to decide whether to press ahead with plans to bulldoze the building.

Coun Rankin said any decision would be “the start of a process” which would see it open talks with Lancashire County Council about the future of the site.

The leader told yesterday’s meeting of the city council: “We will continue to look at the options for as long as we can.

“There maybe developers out there (who do not know about the building) who may pick up on the national coverage it has received and be interested in doing something with it.

“I am happy to talk to anyone who feels they have a use for it and can take it off our hands, spend a lot of money on converting it and make it pay.”

Coun Rankin said the council had already spoken with “one of the biggest development companies in the country” about converting it.

He added: “They got really exciting, but came back to us and said they could not make it pay.”

Coun Terry Cartwright said the decision for the council’s cabinet to decide upon on its future “stinks”, but was told by governance officer Angela Harrison that the full council could not veto the cabinet’s decision.

Coun Rankin said any decision taken by the cabinet would be called in by the authority’s scrutiny committee, but rules meant it could not be overturned.

Independent councillor Michael Lavalette said any decision to demolish the bus station would be “short-sighted.”

He said: “I am sure there were people who did not like the architecture of the Harris, but no-one has suggested we demolish that.

“What we are proposing is getting rid of a site of architectural significance.”

Responding to a question by Labour councillor Mark Yates about a referendum for a directly-elected mayor for Preston, Coun Rankin said the city could “not afford to become obsessed with one building.”

John Wilson, the campaigner who is launching a petition to secure 5,000 signatures to trigger a public referendum on the mayoral vote, said he would continue his fight.

He said: “Years ago when the old Town Hall was demolished (following a major fire) and no-one spoke out against it, that won’t happen this time.”

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