JENNIFER Mein needed just one word to sum up the five short-listed designs for Preston Bus Station: “Wow!”
And as the County Council leader surveyed for the first time the futuristic plans - one of which will become reality - she beamed: “They are all absolutely outstanding. Any of them will really put Preston on the map.
“With everything else that is happening in the city centre, this will tell people Preston really is open for business.”
The five designs, chosen by a panel from 93 applications, went on display at the bus station yesterday in a two-day exhibition.
Within minutes the plans were attracting plenty of interest, with the public encouraged to vote for their favourite - a poll which will form part of the final decision, due by the end of the month.
Coun Mein, whose authority is spending £13m on doing up the Grade II Listed terminus and providing a youth zone for the city, was having her first viewing too.
She admitted: “Love it or hate it, I’m hoping that when it is finished it will be something everyone can rally round and say ‘yes,this is really exciting for Preston.’
“Until you see the designs you don’t understand the magnitude of it. I think it will be absolutely fabulous.
“Some people will think ‘that will never happen in Preston.’ But one of these five designs will happen.
“With the Fishergate work, the plans for the market, the improvements being made to the Guild Hall and the university’s plans for their city centre campus, when it all comes together Preston is going to be the go-to destination.
“Within five years Preston will be a totally different place.
“I’m hoping that when the Bus Station is completed people will say ‘wow.’ And I honestly think they will.”
Judges spent two days whittling the 93 applications down to just five. One member of the panel, youth councillor Edward Towers, admitted it had been “hard going.”
“Some of them were easier than others to exclude,” said the 18-year-old from Fulwood. “There was quite a bit of negotiation before we came up with the final five.
“I think all five are very different, very interesting designs. They all bring different things to the table. It’s an absolutely wonderful building and whichever design wins it is going to be iconic.
“I got involved because when the idea was floated they thought it made sense to have a young person on the panel to make sure it was a building that young people would use.”
Jerry Glover, whose OnSide team have created youth zones around the North West, said: “All five designs are really impressive. I think the young people of Preston are really going to love coming here, whichever one wins.
“It will bring more life to the city centre and it’s really exciting. It’s about working with young people to give them a great place to go and I think, with this great central location and the designs being considered, it is safe to say there won’t be one like this in the country.”
Visitors to the exhibition are able to vote for their favourite in a ballot box. Voting is also available on the LCC website www.lancashire.gov.uk/competition until July 21.
An announcement on the winning design is expected by the end of the month. Work could get underway by May next year and is expected to take two years.