They say a week is a long time in politics, well try a year. This time last year we were gearing up for a decision on whether the Bus Station would be demolished.Advertisement
And in December last year the city council were pushing ahead with demolition, unless a buyer could be found.
The future of Preston Bus Station was hanging in the balance, and an attempt by local millionaire Simon Rigby to buy it for £1 with a promise to refurbish was rejected.
Meanwhile, Labour won control of County Hall in the local elections in May. This left both Town and County painted red, but with all the One Connect allegations and bruising politics over at County Hall there was no movement from county councillors over the Bus Station.
Then Save Preston Bus Station campaigners cranked it up a notch, a third attempt to list the building was launched. And as a long hot summer rolled along there were whispers, rumours and decisions by the culture minister that he may well be a fan of brutalist architecture.
September came and suddenly we had the bombshell dropped on Monday 23 September, the Bus Station became a grade-II listed building.
Peter Rankin and chums retreated into the Town Hall and planned their next move.
The new city centre plan came out in October and there was a hint the expected u-turn was coming, the city council might be prepared to invest – but large budget cuts were leaving the council with three options. Approach the private sector, cobble together its own funding or head down Fishergate to County Hall and see what the mood was like there.
They found the County in receptive mood. A fund of £8.3 million was already earmarked for building a smaller Bus Station if the current bus station was demolished. How about we use that to refurb it suggested Town Hall bosses? Deal.
And so the report was released and campaigners realised it looks like the Bus Station is here to stay, suddenly a central pillar of any strategy to rebuild the fortunes of Preston city centre.
And the keys to the Bus Station, well they’ve been sold off down to County Hall (ending a bizarre arrangement where county run the buses and transport, but have no control over its largest transport hub in the county).
Let’s just be thankful Preston City Council didn’t put the Bus Station on eBay eh? Who knows where we’d be right now…
Image credit to Paul Melling