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Plan to save Preston bus station revealed

A Lancashire businessman has mounted an ambitious bid to save Preston’s iconic Brutalist bus station from demolition

Energy magnate Simon Rigby has teamed up with Preston and Manchester-based Frank Whittle Partnership to promote a retail-led rescue plan for the concrete behemoth.

The proposal would see the landmark BDP-designed 1969 structure transformed to include new retail and leisure uses alongside a smaller bus station. The multi-storey car park would also remain.

Preston bus station’s future has been in doubt since 2000 when the £700 million Tithebarn regeneration scheme – a project BDP also worked on – required it to be flattened.

The highly controversial project collapsed two years ago but in December Preston Council sanctioned the building’s in principle demolition on the grounds it cost £297,000-a-year to maintain and was too expensive to repair.

The council at the time also asked for a second opinion on an estimated £23 million refurbishment cost and invited offers for its purchase.

Rigby’s bid to purcahse the site for an undisclosed sum includes underwriting the cost of refurbishing the landmark. He said: ‘I will personally put the money up to keep it, in the short-term this is a charity case because there is no magic wand which can be waved, if there was someone would have waved it by now.’

Frank Whittle Partnership managing director David Robertson said demolishing the building would be ‘vandalism’ and suggested a design competition could be launched at a later stage if the project goes ahead.

Last month the Twentieth Century Society made a fresh attempt to list the bus station three years after Labour architecture minister Margaret Hodge rejected English Heritage’s recommendation to grant statutory protection.

Welcoming the rescue plan, Clare Price of the society, said: ‘Obviously the best use for a building is the one for which it was intended and it’s still in beneficial use as a bus station.  But if it is under threat of demolition and the most viable option to keep it is to consider another use then that has to be done.’




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