Preston City Council has transferred Preston Bus Station to the county council for £1.
In December last year the city council decided to approve a deal with County Hall for them to take ownership of the building.
Now documents, revealed by Blog Preston after a Freedom of Information request, show the city council valued the building – classed as a grade II listed architectural gem by the government.
A report to the leader of the council, Peter Rankin, in late March outlined the deal struck with Lancashire County Council.
It places a condition that the core Bus Station site must be used as a bus station and multi-storey car park, however units within it can be for other purposes.
But it lines up land around the Bus Station to be potentially sold off for redevelopment, netting the city council a share of the profits if any deal is more than £8.3 million.
The £8.3 million amount is significant because this amount is earmarked by the county council to be spent on improving the Bus Station, an amount committed in the City Deal – an injection of £434m into major infrastructure projects in the Preston area.
The area around the building, which was listed in September last year and is hailed by English Heritage as a masterpiece of brutalist architecture, is classed as the City Centre North zone in a new plan looking at how Preston’s centre can be redeveloped.
A Preston city council spokesman said: “It’s not about the actual value of the bus station and surrounding land.
“It’s about investing in this now grade II listed building and improving transport facilities for Preston. Lancashire County Council are investing up to £10m in the bus station which is great news for Preston and, as the bus station serves as an important transport hub, for Lancashire too.
“It is simply illogical and counter productive to seek market value from another public authority, especially one that wants to invest in the building.
“It would just limit how much the County Council could spend on the building and not achieve the desired outcomes for the bus station or the city as a whole.
“This is a brilliant result for Preston and we are delighted to be working closely with Lancashire County Council who have the best interests of both Preston and Lancashire at heart.”
The city council and county council’s Labour leaders recently signed a five year deal commiting the two councils to a close working relationship on the redevelopment of the area.
Previously the city council cabinet had tried to demolish the Bus Station, voting for this in December 2012.
A long-running campaign fought to have the building listed, claiming it was architecturally important – something the culture minister Ed Vaizey agreed with them on in September last year.
Before this councillors voted to reject a proposal from local millionaire businessman Simon Rigby and his consortium who wanted to buy the area for £1 and redevelop the Bus Station.
Peter Rankin said at the time the council could not guarantee the future use of the building and site as a Bus Station if it accepted the Rigby proposal – however the building was not listed at this stage. The listed status makes it virtually impossible for the Bus Station to ever be demolished.
You can read the full heads of term agreement for the Bus Station transfer on the Whatdotheyknow website.
The city council said the documents had been initially restricted because they contained confidential financial affairs of the council and a third party – who in this case were another local authority. It was on these grounds Blog Preston appealed the decision to restrict the documents, using the Freedom of Information Act.
What do you think? Is it a savvy deal by the city council or have they sold a crown jewel of Preston? Let us know your views in the comments below