PLANS to scrap all the original wooden sliding doors on the concourse of Preston Bus Station and replace them with aluminium have been challenged by conservationists.
Historic England has asked owners Lancashire County Council to look again at the removal of the doors through which millions of passengers have passed to board buses in the 47 years since the Grade II Listed building was opened.
A planning application for internal and external improvement works at the iconic terminus has been approved by Preston City Council.
But Historic England, formerly English Heritage, says it is “unconvinced” the wholesale replacement of the original features is completely necessary. It has also described the removal of bay numbers on the western side of the bus station is “regrettable.”
Historic England has given its blessing to the majority of the refurbishment work going on at the terminus and its multi-storey car park.
But in a letter to County Hall, the inspector of historic buildings and areas, Marie Smallwood, wrote: “We welcome the principle of the works and are satisfied that, on the whole, they are well considered and would result in a notable improvement to the condition and functionality of the asset.
“However we remain concerned with the complete loss of the original doors and would recommend that this element be reconsidered.”
LCC says that it consulted with Historic England and other bodies before concluding that the doors could only operate as originally intended if they were replaced with new aluminium ones. This would ensure their safe and reliable operation.
“We looked into retaining some of the old timber doors in a fixed position, but this would look inconsistent alongside the aluminium doors, and would not be in keeping with the rhythmic character of the main bus station facade,” said a spokesman.
LCC leader, Coun Jennifer Mein, said: “We’re pleased that these improvements will be made to the concourse, brightening up the interior and improving the experience for people using the bus station.
“The concrete repairs have begun and improvements are being made to the car park levels. Other parts of this project are currently waiting for planning permission, with the plans coming along well. This is yet another step forward for our major plans for the bus station, which including the new youth zone and new public space. Along with the other major plans coming forward, this is an exciting time for the city.”
The concrete and car park improvements have begun and are expected to be completed at the end of next year.