Preston City Council’s cabinet has recommended the bus station be demolished unless private investment can be found.
The council, led by Peter Rankin, debated the issue at cabinet but agreed in principle the iconic building would be bulldozed and a new bus station built in its place.
Cllr Rankin said the cost of redeveloping the site was too great for the council to bear but there had been no private sector interest in it – so far.
He hinted at the meeting there were private individuals interested in it but urged them to come forward if they would take it on.
Cabinet was told the cost of a refurbishment was at least £17m and the capital projects of this kind could not be supported without significant outside backing.
The council stressed the bus station would not be knocked down tomorrow or next week, as their needed to be significant work done before anything could happen.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Rankin said: “Our preferred option would be to refurbish Preston Bus Station. We have spent time and effort looking at refurbishment as an option. But at up to £23m it is simply beyond what the Council can afford. Although we have asked for a second opinion on these costs to be sure before any final decision is made.
“We are in the age of austerity and are facing huge cuts to our budgets and services. In this climate, we cannot even afford to fund all the repairs that are needed at the Bus Station. The building is also expensive to run – costing taxpayers £297,000 a year just to keep open.
“We do understand that many people are passionate about the Bus Station and there is no doubt that it is a striking building – so it is very much a heart and a head dilemma that we face.
“But at the end of the day we have to vote with our heads. It is cheaper and better value for money to taxpayers to demolish the building and then work with Lancashire County Council to build a new modern, smaller and fit for purpose Bus Station in its place.
“That is not to say that the bulldozers will arrive tomorrow, next week or indeed next month. We’ve already had some private developer interest in the building. We will talk to any serious investors with a proposition to invest in it for the future.
“However, we cannot wait forever. The deteriorating state of the building and moreover the Council’s finances means that we must move ahead soon.”
The decision to demolish the bus station is part of a wider plan to develop the city centre, you can see the main points of it in our report.
The future of the bus station has caught the national media’s attention and many Preston residents have turned to social media to get their point across, including Blog Preston contributor Bernie Blackburn who posted this photo on Flickr.
Playback coverage of the meeting on the council website
Read the Lancashire Evening Post’s coverage of the cabinet meeting
What do you think about the decision? Do you back demolition? Let us know in the comments below