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Thursday24 July 2014

Scramble to save Preston bus station

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Architects claim council is ‘rushing’ bus station decision

Architects in Lancashire have launched an eleventh-hour attempt to save Preston Bus Station – on the eve of the council’s vote on whether to demolish it.

They accused the council of failing to consult its own vision and urban design panels before “rushing” the decision on to Monday’s agenda.

After the demise of the £700 million Tithebarn redevelopment last year – also designed by BDP – they thought the council’s focus had moved away from the bus station after a long campaign.

Now they are scrambling to put together a counter-proposal, claiming they have contacts in the private sector who could be interested in the site.

Preston council leader Peter Rankin said refurbishing the 1969 brutalist bus station would cost £23 million, while carrying out essential repairs would require more than the council’s £5 million budget for the redevelopment of the entire city centre.

Preston’s brutalist bus garage.

Preston’s brutalist bus garage.

By contrast, demolition and rebuild would cost less than £16 million, he said.

The architects are now scrutinising the council’s figures.

“If you are determined to knock something down, it always costs a lot to refurbish,” said Francis Roberts, founder of Preston-based Francis Roberts Architects who worked at BDP when Keith Ingham was designing the bus station.

“It’s a distinguished building and it would be a significant loss to Preston.”

His son and partner, Dominic Roberts, is one of the architects rallying to save it.

He said: “The council has vision bodies and urban design panels but hasn’t consulted them.  It’s all being done at officer level. They’re frightening the councillors into submission.”

He sympathised with Rankin’s argument that it is hard to defend a building when cuts are threatening vital services.

David Cox

David Cox of Wood Associates

But he said: “It would be wrong to knock down an important architectural monument when you have no idea what you are going to replace it with. You’ll end up with a city centre full of surface car parks and empty spaces. That’s what happened in Bradford.”

David Cox of Wood Associates said rather than lobbying Monday’s meeting with placards they planned a less confrontational approach.

He was contacting the planning department this week to offer to broker introductions with private sector contacts in other parts of the country who could be interested in operating the building.

“I want to make sure the officers area aware of our enthusiasm and that we think there’s a private sector option that could be valuable,” he said.

“There’s a group of people in the city – including the built environment sub-group of Preston Vision – who would like the opportunity to help the council examine a range of options.

“The council has been looking at it for many years and but there are a lot of people in the city with a different outlook and a fresher perspective.

“Whatever happens on Monday we are hopeful there will be stages after that at which we can have some influence before demolition actually occurs.”

Halving the number of bus stands and moving them round the back would leave space for a public square that could solve three problems at a stroke – the building’s over-capacity; its dingy context; and pedestrian accessibility.

 

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Readers' comments (10)

  • zecks_marquise

    Two phallic terms in one caption. Nice work BD

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  • Yet again the modernist "heritage" lobby wants to save an obsolete building that they don't have to look at, use or indeed go anywhere near.

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  • Seymour Alexander

    Slough spent £11m recently knocking down its iconic 'brutalist' Brunel bus station and built one that looks like a small version of the current Preston building. Slough has also knocked down the much praised Rogers' TVU Library in order to make way for yet another vacant bomb site (as it it felt the need to fulfil John Betjeman's pre-war plea to the Lutwaffe: "Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!".

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  • if we carry on demolishing buildings just because they were built in the 60's there will be nothing left, and then it will be too late. How many other 1960's buildings in the north west have people got excited about recently? Preston needs to think long and hard before it obliterates this unique example of 1960's achitecture. The building can't be obsolete as it is clearly still in operation. The issue seems to be that it's too big - maybe a scheme to utilise the town-side forecourt for some other use would be appropriate.

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  • clichy

    @zecks
    What on earth are you talking about?
    Still, you got in first as ever.

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  • zecks_marquise

    3 cheers for me!

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  • robert hodges

    I think he means "Scramble" and "Preston"

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  • It will be a disaster if that gets demolished. Its a great building. It makes no sense to knock it down, reuse the structure. Keep the essential essence of the building and refurbish. That will not cost more. Its madness to say that refurb will cost so much more than demolition. + what about embodied energy considerations. Is the council completely ignorant of the countries continuing commitment to carbon reduction (recession or no rescession)! The bus station should be preserved because it is an asset not just an historical building. Its practical and elegant and needs a coat of paint, a new cafe, some new flooring and bobs your uncle, you have a new bus station.

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  • We seem to be adopting ' The Replacement Washing Machine Syndrome ' it's broken so let's go and buy a new one .
    Anthony Doody MCIAT
    Chartered Architectural Technologist

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  • rcr

    Muddy-Mae Suggins | 14 December 2012 10:33 am
    wrote:

    Yet again the modernist "heritage" lobby wants to save an obsolete building that they don't have to look at, use or indeed go anywhere near.

    Apart from it being the modernist lobby who are interested, the same could be said of most heritage buildings and structures from any period of time?

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