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Last stop yet again for Preston's Brutalist masterpiece

The 20th Century Society has vowed to fight Preston council’s recommendation to demolish the city’s iconic Brutalist bus shelter ‘every step of the way’

The BDP-designed shelter was built in the late 60s and has room for 80 double decker buses making it one of the largest of its kind in Europe. A five-storey car park sits on top of the shelter, its elegant curved balconies giving the building its distinctive appearance.

Now a new report from Preston Coucil says the shelter should be knocked down because the building is too expensive to repair or refurbish with costs put at £23 million for a full refurb and more than £5 million just to carry out essential work.

But Clare Price of the 20th Century Society said the building was ‘a landmark for Preston’ and ‘one of the most important of its kind’, despite recently missing out on listed status.

She said: ‘English Heritage, us and the World Monument Fund want this building listed. The Preston Council report is based on sprurious assumption that the building has a 20-year life but there has been no structural survey and we believe the building is fit-for-purpose.’

The fate of the building, described by Rem Koolhaas as ‘a treasure’ will be decided by councillors at a meeting on the 17th December. Price said if the vote was in favour of demolition the council would still have to go through planning before the building was razed:

‘We can challenge this at the planning stage; it will be a long process and we will fight every step of the way.’

The new twist is the latest in a long-running saga that began when demolition was proposed in 2000 to make way for the Terry Farrell masterplanned Tithebarn regeneration scheme, which ironically BDP took over in 2005 for developer Grosvenor.

The Tithebarn scheme was abandoned last year when anchor tenant John Lewis pulled out, seemingly saving the shelter. Despite its work on Tithebarn, a BDP spokesman told AJ that the firm would be sad to see the building go:‘We have had a lot of involvement with the scheme over the years; yes our [Tithebarn] scheme would have meant its demolition, but we would have bettered the city centre.

‘We are not backtracking,’ he added, ‘if there is no benefit to Preston then its demolition would be disappointing.’


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