Small change, a small price for tomorrow

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Quite some while since this column turned its attention to Preston Bus Station, largely because to all intents and purposes, the matter seemed to have been more or less resolved.

Many articles and countless words blurted in defence of what is – to my mind – undoubtedly the finest piece of late 20th century architecture in Northern Britain and arguably the country had contributed, however microscopically, to a successful outcome. Which is not to say any credit is due hereabouts. That all lies with a tireless local few – they know who they are – who coordinated and led a grassroots army of equally tireless volunteers to victory. Moral support only here, which went some way, if nothing else, hopefully, to altering the perception (my own if nobody else) that the LEP had for some while been guilty of not recognising the true worth of this grey giant.

Whatever, listed status and refurbishment cash in the bag, future secured, shut your trap Freeman, go rant about something else. Gladly. But worth returning to the subject today, in the wake of ongoing hoo-ha over the revised design of the youth centre to which that all-important public dough is tethered.

Really can’t see why the fuss. Indeed, to me the new design seems something of an improvement, not least because the building as now proposed will be an entirely separate structure rather than a quite unwelcome bolt-on.

Thinking long term this is clearly a gain. Half a century from now all those old stick-in-the-muds who regard the station as a concrete monstrosity will be dead, gone and its worth uncontested.

Stuffy Prince Charles-esque yahoo prejudice forgotten, the station will be seen and understood by all for exactly what it is; an epic embodiment of post-war municipal power and optimism (can you imagine Preston setting out to build the world’s biggest anything today), a British high watermark for a school of architecture that for a time conquered the globe.

The youth zone? Quickly and cheaply swept away with no physical compromise to what will then be Preston’s newest Grade 1 Listed building, hopefully ahead of the revamp which will secure it in perpetuity. Think of today’s plans as a means to an end, one which will serve the next few generations well but that must soon, itself, come to an end. Approve these plans, embrace that future.