Preston’s grade II listed Bus Station is set to be transferred to be run by Lancashire County Council.
The city council have tabled a proposal to gift ownership of the building to the county and wash their hands of the building.
The Bus Station, threatened with demolition by the city council, was declared a listed building in September and has caused the city council to u-turn on their plan.
A report to the city council’s cabinet, headed by council leader Peter Rankin, states the Bus Station and the multi-storey car park, would move to control from County Hall.
Officers write “consequently it would eliminate an anomaly which has existed since local government reorganisation in 1974.”
In December last year the city council’s cabinet had voted to demolish the building after rejecting a bid from entrepreneur Simon Rigby to buy it.
Now, they are gifting the site and building to Lancashire County Council with the condition the bus station is refurbished as part of the new city centre plan.
Branding the area around the building as “City Centre North”, the city council wants to see the £8.3 million earmarked by the county council for a new Bus Station spent on refurbishing the current building.
Officers write the county council is in a better position to provide urgent and timely repairs to the building.
The report states the city council will immediately save £117,000 in this financial year by giving the building to the county council.
There are still hurdles to come, as employees at the Bus Station will have to be moved to work for the county council and traffic wardens will also need to be consulted with over their employment status.
The report also goes into detail on whether demolition would still be an option, with officers explaining the long and costly process associated with trying to demolish a listed building.
They write: “The primary advantage of this proposal is that the County Council ear marked capital funds of £8.3m which can be used to benefit the Bus Station and MSCP (multi-storey car park) and given the requirements of grant funding schemes are in a better position to secure a long term sustainable future for the Bus Station and MSCP.
“The Bus Station and MSCP would transfer as a going concern and as such there would be no immediate direct impact on the users of the building. In addition the County Council are better positioned to make some badly needed improvements in the foreseeable future for the benefit of bus passengers and car park users. In the current circumstances, however, the City Council is unlikely to deliver either in the short or medium term.”
Councillor Peter Rankin commented on the proposal saying it was “good news”.
He said: “This is the best way forward for everyone concerned. Preston City Council loses a drain on its resources that it can ill afford in the current financial climate, while the County Council, as the Transport Authority, gains control of the county’s most important transport hub.
“And of course for the the bus station campaigners this is very good news. The bus station’s future is assured with control of the bus station remaining in public hands. Ownership of the building transferring to the County Council, unlocks £8.3m of investment.
“With further investment from other sources, including possible lottery funds, Preston will eventually gain a bus station fit for the 21st century.”
Bus Station campaigner John Wilson, who led the battle to get the building listed, greeted the news by tweeting.
Fantastic news breaking #PrestonBusStation Ownership to be transferred from @prestoncouncil to #LancashireCountyCouncil and £8.3M investment
— John Wilson (@pneGianni) November 25, 2013
The full report will go before the city council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday 5 December to decide whether to proceed to enter into final negotiations with Lancashire County Council.
The report is available to view on the council website.
What’s your view? Is Lancashire County Council taking control a good thing? Or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments below