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Opinion: Bus station debate shows how Preston has fallen behind

Posted on - 18th October, 2011 - 9:40am | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, Observations, Opinion, Redevelopment

Buses parked outside the station in 1980. Photo by Sou'wester on Flickr.

This is a guest post by Steve Ratcliffe. You can find him on Twitter here, and he also blogs here

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To be clear I am neither Pro-Tithebarn nor Pro-Save Preston Bu Station, I am Pro-Preston, I have lived here all my life but have travelled extensively for over 10 years and I continue to do so across many major UK towns and cities. I have seen them develop, I have seen them stagnate and I have seen them transformed.

Importantly in all this I have seen how both sides of the coin impact on the fortunes of people both positively and negatively. And all said and done, this where I come from on this issue because to me people matter, not profit, nor buildings.

So I’ll try and look at this from two perspectives, where we are nowwhat next?

Where we are now, Tithebarn is and remains a 13 yr old question of redevelopment. Not a question of having or not having the “Brutal Preston Bus Station (BPBS)” in all its splendour. The fact is without proposed redevelopment the BPBS issue goes away.

Right now the whole debate has become polarised, divisive in and out of Preston and damaging to every last one of us. The paralysis on the matter, regardless of your interest has strangulated the town centre. Personally, like many people in Preston, I have little or no reason to use the city centre, outer retail or supermarket outlets and the internet fulfil all many shopping requirements, this has been further exasperated by the consolidating of charity shops in the Town centre.

Preston city centre needs more than local trade to be sustainable.

While all this continues alternatives are found by shoppers, business, residents etc. I conclude this assessment with some questions after 13 yrs of damage, how do we resolve the matter expediently and drive Preston forward? What initiative is going to provide jobs and undo some of the damage rapidly? Ultimately, what do people really want?

My personal thoughts, the adding of BPBS to the World Monument List is nice, possibly justified but essentially not going to change things. It has highlighted what an awesome structure the BPBS is.

However Preston does not need the building in it current capacity/function.

The inside is brutal in all the wrong ways; would it be nice to convert it? Yes, probably. However, any investor understandably has their own vision for their money and does not want to inherit the unknown where costs could easily spiral.

If you reject this view then realistically say goodbye to any major investment. What matters to me are things like the market, for personal reasons and securing investment that will help move Preston on, we’ve fallen miles behind.

Point to consider, one of the major Tithebarn partners John Lewis is already considering how to squeeze into the already congested Deepdale retail area. This would bring more woes to the accommodation and exhausted network there in the area, with negative impact and definitely no building of any significance to hold things up, killing off any other retail investment to Preston City Centre.

What next? Remember what is at stake. It seems to me that the debate has forgotten the people of Preston’s needs and dogma is dominating all positions.  The big problem here is time is against us (people finding alternatives) and further indecision would be disastrous and irreparable in my view.

What we need now is a final expedient timetable for progress one way or the other. No appeal, that’s it! All parties involved must take a leap of faith in a fair, defined, representative process over a very short period. This really can’t go on. This process should canvass and consider all views, even if we had to spend a few grand to do it because right now, the impact on people, jobs, lost revenues alone are making any cost negligible.

Check out all our past coverage of Preston Bus Station’s future here

Photo by Sou’wester on Flickr

 

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