Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the social and architectural importance of Preston Bus Station.Advertisement
Built in 1969 by Building Design Partnership, Preston Bus Station was the largest in Europe – a space-age structure built in the same year as the moon landing.
When it was built it had capacity for 80 double-decker buses – 40 along each side – with access via two subways and a walkway linking it to the Guild Hall.
The five-storey car park had capacity for 1,100 cars, with the iconic curved edges designed to protect bumpers from hitting vertical walls.
Read more: Turns out you can make Preston Bus Station out of malted milk biscuits
The Twentieth Century Society described Preston Bus Station as ‘one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK’ and went on to fight a hard-won campaign to have it listed.
In 2000, the Bus Station was threatened with demolition as plans for the Tithebarn Development started to gather pace.
An application was made to English Heritage to give the building Listed Building status but it was unsuccessful after opposition from Preston City Council and partners, who wanted to create a new transport hub closer to the Railway Station.
Councillors argued a smaller transport hub would serve the city adequately and provide better links to the rail network.
A further application to list the building was turned down in 2010 and a review in 2011 also proved unsuccessful – despite a survey by the Lancashire Evening Post in 2010 revealing Preston Bus Station was Prestonians’ favourite building in the city.
On December 7 2012 Preston City Council announced the Bus Station would be demolished – at a cost of £1.8m. The council said it would cost £5m to keep the Bus Station standing and £23m to refurbish it.
In 2012 Preston Bus Station featured on the World Monument Fund’s list of ‘at risk’ sites.
Undeterred, the Twentieth Century Society continued in its fight to have the Bus Station listed and in 2013 the building was granted Grade II status by English Heritage.
Read more: From the depressing embers of Tithebarn we now feel like a city going somewhere
In October 2014, Lancashire County Council approved plans for the £23m redevelopment, to include closing one side to buses and developing a Youth Zone on the Western edge.
In August 2018 plans for the Youth Zone were scrapped after spiralling costs meant anyone interested in operating the scheme would need to contribute £1.5m – and the plans failed to attract any investors.
Chairman of Preston Youth Zone, Guy Topping, accused the council of ‘engineering the tender process’ to put off would-be investors, and the Labour group also criticised the decision.
The decision to scrap the Youth Zone was ‘called in’ for consideration by the Internal Scrutiny Committee, but in January 2019 the Youth Zone reached the end of the road, and it was announced the scheme was no longer taking place.
New plans have now been submitted for the Bus Station’s Western Edge, which include an ‘urban park’ to run along the entire edge, which could host music and outdoor events.
Read more: This is how Preston Bus Station’s Western Edge may look
Labour leaders have said they will continue to fight for a Youth Zone for the young people in Preston.
Read more: Event to mark 50 years of Preston Bus Station
What do you think the future holds for Preston Bus Station? Leave your comments below.