The city council look set to reject an offer from a consortium of local businessmen led by Simon Rigby to buy and redevelop the Bus Station.Advertisement
Papers submitted to the cabinet meeting of Preston City Council reveal officers have recommended not to accept the offer from Rigby.
Instead the city council could be set to enter into detailed negotiations with Lancashire County Council and eventually transfer the ownership of the building to them.
In December councillors voted to demolish the bus station provoking an angry backlash from campaigners.
The council claims the Bus Station is too expensive to run and invited private businesses to come forward with offers for the building.
The report states the council does not feel the Rigby plan for the building is sustainable beyond the 10 years of repairs and refurbishments promised.
Another objective listed by the council for the Bus Station site i for it be “complimentary to a wider city centre development/regeneration”, officers write the Rigby plan will rely on goodwill while the county council will be a “prime deliverer of city centre plans.”
Officers outline how the most viable option for the bus station is to demolish the existing building and to create a new smaller bus station and put a temporary car park on the Western edge of the site.
The documents also make clear the desire to transfer ownership of the building and site to the county council.
An application to have the bus station declared a listed building is still ongoing, two previous attempts to list it have been rejected – most recently in 2010.
The building is set to feature on an edition of the BBC Culture Show on Wednesday March 20, the night before the big cabinet vote.
Shortly after midnight on Friday 15 March the city council released a statement from leader of the council Peter Rankin.
He said: “The Cabinet are meeting on 21st March to formally consider Simon’s proposal.
“As a Council we have to act in the best, long term interests of taxpayers and the people of Preston.
“Selling the bus station for £1 might save the Council money in the short term but it guarantees nothing.
“There can be no guarantees imposed on the future use of the building as a bus station, nor on future investment in the building.
“The major risk is that, for whatever reason, anyone who owns the bus station building could at some point simply decide not to operate it as a bus station anymore. That would leave Preston without a functioning bus station and no money or land to build a new one.
“There is simply no getting away from the fact that the current bus station building needs major investment. To bring the bus station up to modern day standards the costs, which have now been independently checked and verified, are between £17m and £23m.
“Simon’s initial proposal sees investment of up to £2m immediately, which would pay for some repairs and improvements.
“We would like to thank Simon for his proposal and the time he has taken to put it together and discuss it with us. He like many people is a lover of the bus station building and wants to keep it.
“However, we have to think long term and what’s in the best interests of Preston. The £8.3m guaranteed investment from Lancashire County Council, set aside in their capital programme, for a new bus station for Preston appears to be the best option.
“It would not only improve the City Council’s financial position, doing away with the near £300,000 annual costs of keeping the current building running, but would also provide improved and better services to the people of Preston.
“It seems to be the only reasonable and sensible decision to take.”
Cabinet will meet on Thursday 21 March to consider the report and make their decision.
View the full report on the council website.
What do you think of the proposal? Let us know in the comments below