Rallying call: Architects asked to lobby English Heritage to list Preston Bus Station
A campaigner has called on the profession to put pressure on English Heritage to protect the iconic bus station from demolition
Local resident John Wilson has invited architects and people of ‘high standing within the industry’ to support the latest bid to list the BDP-designed 1969 structure.
He said: ‘We have four weeks of intense lobbying to help persuade [architecture minister] Ed Vaizey and his team at the DCMS to grant listed status to the building. English Heritage are presently preparing documents to present to him in due course.’
The bus station has been at risk since 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.
According to Wilson, supporters of listing have until 11 April to contact English Heritage.
Letters can be sent to:
Designation Team Leader – North
37 Tanner Row
Proposals to save the structure had previously been revealed by energy magnate Simon Rigby. These included new retail and leisure uses alongside a smaller bus station, but were thrown out by Preston Council.
Angela Brady’s letter to English Heritage (EH)
RE: Preston Bus station: letter of support for its retention which could be Jewel in the crown for Preston.
EH has recommended the listing of this building on more than one occasion. EH is the Secretary of State’s specialist adviser on listability of buildings based on criteria for architectural or historic interest. The regulations governing how listing happens say that the Minister must ONLY take into account the issue of special architectural or historic interest. Listing or not listing must be decided only on this issue. The non-listing of the building is shameful as it is happening because there is a lobby to get the building demolished regardless of its merits. The question of whether a building can be demolished must be decided AFTER listing so that the historic interest can be properly taken into account. In this high profile case, an application for demolition would be called in for ministerial decision, which would generate a public planning inquiry. The Act says that Listed Buildings must not be demolished without “compelling” reason -so it is possible but an overwhelming case must be made. The fact that some people find the building “difficult” or “in the way” is not a compelling reason.
The previous refusal to listed Preston Garage was made by Margaret Hodge, who is notorious for her anti-modern architecture “concrete monstrosity” views. Could there be a different view from Tory Maria Miller?
The arguments about costs for running the building and upgrading are spurious. Who can doubt that converting St Pancras Station for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was not only a triumph but also not the cheapest solution? To clear the St Pancras site and put up a cheap shed would have been more “sensible”, but at what an architectural and cultural cost? Such a disaster is exactly what happened at Euston Station where world class historic buildings were bulldozed in 1960 for an indifferent shed replacement. Is not Spitalfields Market all the better for retaining and reusing the 19th century market building? Have we learnt nothing?
Preston Bus Garage could be the jewel in the crown of a town centre regeneration scheme, imaginatively converted, blending heroic 1960s architecture with new facilities. It seems there are still city fathers who think that wiping out the past is the only way to make a future! - They must be proved wrong”.
Angela Brady PRIBA